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Automated Warrant Management for Lawful Intelligence

A keyboard with the words "search warrant" on the Shift Key

The regulations and workflows that provide legal authorization for lawful interception are critical to protecting citizen privacy and the integrity of the evidence gathered. Control functions such as warrant management must be efficient and reliable to avoid delays or errors in investigations, protect individual rights, and maintain regulatory compliance.

Traditionally, warrant management has been manual, requiring multiple human interventions and leaving a great deal of discretion about specific implementations to the users. A typical workflow is initiated by an email from the law enforcement agency (LEA) to the communication service provider (CSP). The CSP’s legal department must then review and approve the warrant before entering it manually into a warrant-management system, which allows for the lawful interception target – such as a handset, IP address, or user account – to be provisioned.

This workflow’s repetitive nature and reliance on humans responding to email messages makes it an obvious candidate for automation, which promises faster, more accurate execution of warrants. Automated warrant management can help LEAs start interceptions sooner to avoid lost opportunities for evidence-gathering while the warrant makes its way through administrative processes, which can take several days. It also helps prevent the mishandling of evidence that can jeopardize a case and impact the privacy of innocent citizens.

More importantly, automated warrant management shifts control of the process from the CSP to the LEA. This is beneficial to both parties as it reduces liability for the CSP while further improving the LEA’s ability to provision targets efficiently. It also reduces the manual efforts and associated costs of legal staff at CSPs while streamlining their regulatory compliance. In fact, Google – with its significant burden of requests from law enforcement for the online activity of subjects of interest – has been a primary champion of automated warrant solutions for this very reason.

Industry Standards for Warrant Management Automation

Manual warrant management processes persist in large part because there has been no standardized method for the exchange of warrant data across the H1 handover interface responsible for information exchange between LEAs and CSPs. However, standards bodies are seeking to add new features and enhancements to their specifications to make end-to-end automated warrant management feasible across industry platforms. SS8 fully supports this effort and is incorporating capabilities to support such standards within its LEA and CSP solutions as they emerge.

The mechanisms being created will enable investigators to make requests for communication content directly, with the full authority of a verifiable warrant, without involving anyone at the CSP. Workflow profiles are currently being defined for the relationships between entities such as warrants, authorizations, interception tasks, intercepted communication content, intercept-related information, and retention requirements, as well as the API interactions that drive them. Profiles must accommodate both simple workflows and complex ones that may involve multiple overlapping interception authorizations across multiple targets.

The automated process begins with a submission being created by an LEA analyst that incorporates all warrants and other authorizations required to execute the interception order, as well as the tasks that define the interception targeting itself. This submission includes everything needed to set up the target within the mediation system, and the new specifications will establish standardized ways of passing that information across the network to the law enforcement monitoring center. Using existing workflows and communication channels, the CSPs legal team can quickly verify the warrant, approve the interception, and provision the target – saving vital time in investigations.

Enhancing Warrant Management on SS8 Platforms

Robust and reliable warrant management functionalities in the SS8 platform provide the basis for new, standards-driven automation enabled by the emerging specifications. Industry-leading authorization and access controls ensure that only content authorized by the warrant is captured and delivered to law enforcement, with full configurability to conform to local technical standards and regional compliance and legal requirements. Its powerful but intuitive user interface simplifies the handling of complex, overlapping warrants, such as when different authorizations from multiple agencies apply to a single target. The warrant management functionality also benefits from the SS8 platform’s broader protections such as encryption, access controls, and security for data storage and communications.

The SS8 technology roadmap calls for making automated warrant management functionality available to LEA and CSP customers in 2024. Support for the new H1 interface standards will co-exist with capabilities already available in the SS8 platform, such as Xcipio’s automatic logging of all warrant provisioning, access, and change activities. The enhanced solution will help advance lawful intelligence by removing the need for time-consuming human input to properly provision a target under a warrant. This accelerates the time to first intercept, putting greater control and efficiency into the hands of the investigators charged with protecting society.

About Syed Hussain

Syed Hussain headhot

Syed Hussain has spent more than 20 years working in the telecommunication and cyber security industry in Engineering and Product Management leadership roles. He brings significant technical expertise to his role as VP of Product Management for SS8’s Lawful Intelligence products, covering Service Providers and Law Enforcement market domains. He has led architecture and design of 4G and 5G Lawful Interception solutions in Cloud and non-cloud environments. Syed represents SS8 in both ETSI and 3GPP standards bodies and at technology summits and holds a BS in Computer Science and Engineering. You can learn more about Syed on his LinkedIn profile here.

About Baski Mohan

Baski Mohan is a Director of Product Management for SS8’s data mediation platform called Xcipio. He brings over 20 years of experience in Carrier Grade Networking, Application Security, and SaaS technologies. Baski is a passionate believer in the use of technology to solve global problems and has a Master of Science degree in Computer Science from Pondicherry University. You can learn more about Baski on his LinkedIn profile here.



About SS8 Networks

As a leader in Lawful and Location Intelligence, SS8 helps make societies safer. Our commitment is to extract, analyze, and visualize the critical intelligence that gives law enforcement, intelligence agencies, and emergency services the real-time insights that help save lives. Our high performance, flexible, and future-proof solutions also enable mobile network operators to achieve regulatory compliance with minimum disruption, time, and cost. SS8 is trusted by the largest government agencies, communications providers, and systems integrators globally.

Intellego® XT monitoring and data analytics portfolio is optimized for Law Enforcement Agencies to capture, analyze, and visualize complex data sets for real-time investigative intelligence.

LocationWise delivers the highest audited network location accuracy worldwide, providing active and passive location intelligence for emergency services, law enforcement, and mobile network operators.

Xcipio® mediation platform meets the demands of lawful intercept in any network type and provides the ability to transcode (convert) between lawful intercept handover versions and standard families.

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