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Terms of Reference for Technical Committee (TC) Lawful Interception (LI)

Approved at Board#146a, March 2024


The main objectives of TC LI are:

  • To contribute to the standardisation of Law Enforcement Agency (LEA) support activities based on requirements of applicable legislation including but not limited to Lawful Interception and Lawful Disclosure.
  • To be the ETSI committee for discussions relating to LEA support activities (especially concerning Communications Service Providers).
  • To ensure that compliance can be maintained with such activities and to deliver technical capabilities in an efficient, secure and effective manner with appropriate separation of responsibilities throughout the process.
  • To work closely with other TCs to ensure continuity of compliance.
  • To be ETSI’s centre of excellence for LEA support.
  • These ToR do not make any statement about which organisations are or are not covered by legislation.

Areas of activity

The activities of TC LI include the following broad areas:

  • Support of the EU resolution of 17th January 1995 [1] notes that "the legally authorised interception of telecommunications is an important tool for the protection of national interest, in particular national security and the investigation of serious crime".
  • Support national legislations which in general require retention of data generated or processed in connection with the provision of publicly available electronic communications services or of public communications networks in support of national authorities; This includes Lawful Interception and Lawful Disclosure.
  • Other areas include support for public safety and life at risk queries such as provision of location.
  • Outside the EU the majority of countries also require similar capabilities to be implemented and, in general, follow the ETSI standards or a derivative of them.
  • Develop, in partnership with other ETSI and international bodies, projects and partnerships a suite of standards that allow ETSI standards to support industry compliance to the requirements of national and international law. The role of TC LI in these partnerships is in the development and publication of control and handover interfaces, and of rules for the delivery of technology specific data.
  • Act in partnership with bodies inside and outside ETSI in capturing the requirements of users (LEAs) and translating those into requirements to be applied to technical specifications.
  • Is established on the basis of a technical area, defined in its Terms of Reference, rather than a market sector requirement and is permanent as long as the requirements remain in place.
  • Concerns technology-oriented work and is not a legal body.
  • Mainly concerns tasks which are common to, and whose results are used by, more than one ETSI Project or ETSI Partnership Project and which are not suitable to be dealt with in the project formats provided by the other Technical Bodies.
  • Has its own programme/project management for internal priority-setting, and agreed delivery dates for its results.
  • Is responsible for work sub-contracted from ETSI Projects and ETSI Partnership Projects [2].
  • Is responsible for defining, creating and stopping detailed ETSI work items, within its scope, that are required to fulfil its Terms of Reference.
  • Is responsible for the validation of ETSI deliverables (i.e. ensuring that the deliverable can be fully implemented, providing the intended level of functionality and performance at minimum cost, as defined in the scope of the related ETSI work item) [3].
  • Reports to the General Assembly on work progress when requested.

[1] Official Journal C 329, 04/11/1996 p. 0001 - 0006 "Council Resolution of 17 January 1995 on the lawful interception of telecommunications”.
[2] Specific technologies may modify the primary focus of TC LI’s deliverables and as such expertise in these technologies shall be sought from ETSI Projects and ETSI Partnership Projects.
[3] Adds the specific aim of testing of deliverables to the work programme.

Annex (informative): collaboration with other bodies

TC LI will set-up the appropriate communication channels to the following groups both within and outside of ETSI.

ETSI groups

  • TC LI will set up appropriate communication channels to other technical bodies within ETSI and will inform and consult them on the work of the TC.

External groups

  • National and Regional LEAs and other international institutions or LEA support related bodies where appropriate.
  • GSMA.
  • EU Institutions.
  • 3GPP (specifically SA3-LI).
  • ATIS (specifically PTSC LAES and WTSC LI).
  • ISO (specifically ISO/TC22/SC31/WG6).
  • ITU-T (where appropriate as ITU has no LI remit).