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

Approved at Board#109, September 2016

The ETSI Technical Committee on Lawful Interception (TC LI) actively contributes to the standardisation of Law Enforcement Agency (LEA) Support activities based on requirements of national legislation imposed on Communications Service Providers (CSP), including Cloud based Service Providers. The TC aims to ensure that CSPs can maintain compliance with such activities and to deliver technical capabilities in an efficient, secure and effective manner with appropriate separation of responsibilities throughout the process. The TC is supported by working groups where appropriate and works closely with other TCs to ensure continuity of compliance. The TC is the ETSI centre of excellence for LEA Support.
Furthermore in supporting the formation of a Technical Committee for Lawful Interception the following points from the ETSI directives are noted and annotated as required.


  • is established on the basis of a technical area, defined in its Terms of Reference which are given in full below, 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;[1]
  • 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);[2]
  • reports to the General Assembly on work progress when requested. 

1. Terms of Reference

The EU resolution of 17th January 1995[3] 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”.

National legislation in general requires 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.

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.

TC LI shall 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 interception or retained data.

In addition TC LI shall act in partnership with bodies inside and outside ETSI in capturing the requirements of users (law enforcement agencies) and translating those into requirements to be applied to technical specifications.

2. Relationships with other organisations

2.1  ETSI related

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.

Relationships shall be established with (but not restricted to):

  • 3GPP (in specific SA3-LI)
  • ​ISG NFV
  • ​ISG MEC
  • TC SES

2.2   External to ETSI

The objective is to formulate appropriate global standards therefore co-operation with related bodies are essential. In particular the standards developed have to take account of requirements established by law or convention in the global marketplace and as such relations have to be established with relevant national and regional bodies.

Relationships shall be established with (but not restricted to):

  • National and Regional Law Enforcement Agencies and other international institutions or LEA Support related bodies where appropriate
  • GSMA 
  • EU Institutions
  • ATIS (in specific PTSC LAES and WTSC LI)
  • ITU-T (where appropriate as ITU has no LI remit) 

3. Resources available to TC LI

3.1   ETSI Members

The supporting members are identified in each individual work item.

3.2   ETSI Secretariat

The ETSI secretariat will provide their standard range of services to TC LI in accordance with the ETSI Quality Procedures.

3.3   Specialist Task Forces

Where required TC LI shall request support of STFs from the ETSI FWP. However, in principle the TC LI members will do the work on a voluntary basis.

4. Working Procedures

4.1   ETSI Statutes and Rules of Procedure

The ETSI Statutes, Rules of Procedure and Technical Working Procedures shall always take precedence over any other guidance.

4.2   Technical Committee Decision Making

The preferred method for reaching a decision in TC LI shall be to seek a consensus.

Where consensus does not prove possible decision taking shall be in accordance with the ETSI Directives. 

[1] 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.

[2] Adds the specific aim of testing of deliverables to the work programme.

[3] Official Journal C 329 , 04/11/1996 p. 0001 - 0006 “Council Resolution of 17 January 1995 on the lawful interception of telecommunications”