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Global Lawful Intelligence Outlook: 2023

Hand tapping a virtualized '2023' button

The transition from one year to the next is a natural time for assessment. At SS8, that appraisal helps illuminate the present state of lawful intelligence, anticipate trends for the coming year, and guide our software development. This article offers a few flagship considerations for lawful intelligence operations and strategy in 2023, from various regional perspectives.

The Americas – Social Wires and 5G Subscriber Identification

Forming a picture of a suspect or a victim is critical to law enforcement investigations. Today, that picture is more and more made up of our online identity – who we are connected to and when we connected, how and where we access social media, and the messages we send or posts we make. “Social Wires” provide US investigators access to such information via a court order. A growing number of social platforms are providing standardized means to respond to such requests. SS8 has worked with law enforcement agencies (LEAs) to implement social wires as lawful intelligence sources and enhanced our tools to streamline this valuable new resource for agencies around the world.

Another area of interest is the challenge of identifying individual subscribers in the context of 5G’s enhanced privacy protections. Unlike 4G, which broadcast the user equipment’s (UE) unique international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) in the clear, 5G networks encrypt the UE identity. In 5G, the IMSI is replaced with the SUPI (Subscriber Permanent Identity). However, the UE on a 5G network will provide a scrambled identifier (SUCI, or Subscriber Concealed Identity); the SUCI can only be unscrambled by the UE’s home network.

The use of SUCI is intended to prevent improper and illegal use of cell site simulators (CSS), but it had the same effect on legitimate and legally authorized use by law enforcement agencies. The impact on CSS use is not just in the United States, but anywhere in the world where 5G is deployed. SS8 is working with leading CSS vendors, law enforcement agencies, and mobile network operators to securely allow authorized CSS missions to continue.

UK and Europe: Evolving ETSI Standards

The development of new and updated standards by organizations such as ETSI, 3GPP, and IETF drive change for both CSPs and LEAs. While many of these standards are voluntary, they are often compelling because their adoption can help optimize mission efficiency and effectiveness, as well as prepare for emerging regulatory and competitive requirements. Industry standards therefore offer an effective approach to not only remain current with technology trends but also anticipate future solutions for lawful intelligence.

CSPs and LEAs in the UK and Europe in particular report adoption of two specific ETSI standards as points of focus in the coming year. The first of these, ETSI TS 103 120, specifies the interface for electronic warrant exchange, which stands to dramatically improve authorization processes for lawful interception. Where secure communication of warrants has traditionally required cumbersome approaches such as couriers or specialized secure messaging platforms, ETSI TS 103 120 sets out specifications for direct communication between the LEA system and mediation software such as SS8’s Xcipio. SS8’s work with ETSI means our platform is fully prepared to support this standard.

Another standard of interest in the UK and Europe is ETSI TS 103-2211, which specifies the interfaces used in lawful interception. These consist of the X1 interface to provision lawful interception tasks on network functions, the X2 interface to transmit intercepted management plane content, and the X3 interface to transmit intercepted user plane content. Traditionally, each telecom equipment vendor has used its own proprietary interfaces, which creates communication and normalization challenges in the lawful intelligence pipeline. SS8 is at the forefront of implementing the new standardized X1, X2, and X3 interfaces, enabling CSP and LEA customers alike to take advantage of them.

Asia, Middle East, and Africa: Enhanced Location Intelligence

The broadening adoption of location intelligence as a primary pillar of lawful intelligence has highlighted the importance of combining many different types of data to generate new insights from the composite whole. LEAs need to identify patterns of life across multiple feeds to enable the next generation of law enforcement monitoring facilities (LEMFs). These growing data fusion requirements may face familiar challenges related to unifying isolated siloes of information, which prevents the full value of location information from being unlocked.

LEAs in many Asian, Middle East, and African countries are advancing plans around data convergence solutions for lawful intelligence, with location services playing a large role. For example, adding automated number plate recognition (ANPR) system data and open-source intelligence to location data can dramatically extend the reach of lawful intelligence. The SS8 platform unifies diverse data sources, with extensibility to any data structure, so any type of data from any source can be assembled into a coherent whole that can be queried against.


Looking ahead to 2023, SS8 is actively engaged with data challenges such as social media, subscriber identification, evolving ETSI standards, and data fusion. We continue to anticipate these and other telecommunication and lawful intelligence trends to help CSPs and LEAs protect society both today and in the future.


1   ETSI TS 103-221 is specified in two separate documents. ETSI TS 103-221-1 specifies the X1 interface, and ETSI TS 103-221-2 describes the X2 and X3 interfaces.

About David Anstiss

David Anstiss Blog Head Shot - SS8 Networks

David Anstiss is Director of Solution Engineering at SS8 Networks. He has been with SS8 since 2015 and has significant experience in critical network architecture technology and advanced data analytics. He currently works as part of the Technical CTO Group under the leadership of Dr. Cemal Dikmen and is responsible for leading engagement with both intelligence agencies and Communication Service Providers (CSPs) around the world. He has been instrumental in helping them transition to 5G, defining system requirements to meet regulatory compliance. As a member of ETSI, he represents SS8 to ensure the adoption of cloud-native infrastructure is met with industry best practices and to guarantee that compliance of lawful interception is maintained. Learn more about David here on his LinkedIn profile.

About Kevin McTiernan

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Kevin has over 20 years of extensive experience in the telecommunications and network security industries. At SS8, Kevin is the VP of Government Solutions and is responsible for leading the vision, design, and delivery of SS8’s government solutions, including the Xcipio® compliance portfolio. You can learn more about Kevin on his LinkedIn profile by clicking here.


About Rory Quann

Rory Quann headshot

Rory Quann is Head of International Sales at SS8 Networks and brings with him over 10 years of experience in the Lawful Interception and Data Analysis industry. Prior to joining SS8 in 2013, Rory worked for BAE System Applied Intelligence where he was focused on large scale Government deployments of Intelligence Solutions. Rory has held multiple positions in the Lawful Intelligence space ranging from Deployment Engineer, System Consultant, and Sales Engineer with focus being on Country-wide Passive deployments. Rory is a Certified Microsoft MCSA Engineer and EMC Certified deployment Engineer. You can learn more about Rory on his LinkedIn profile by clicking 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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