Irish officials have said use of facial imaging software by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to detect potential identity fraud is legal. The assertion follows parliamentary questions regarding a controversy in recent months about the department's collection of people's personal data as part of the public services card project.More than three million cards have been issued to people, mainly following a face-to-face registration process where their picture is taken and used both for display on the card and as part of the image-matching database.Some have been issued to people who have given their consent for the image from their passport or driving licence to be used on it.The department has maintained the position that it does not process “biometric” data, which is the unique information that serves to identify a person, such as their facial image or fingerprints.It emerged last week the department's secretary general instructed the removal of a reference on its website to the department collecting “biometric” data relating to individuals, following questions from The Irish Times.