Definition: Lawful Interception (LI) refers to the technical capabilities of telecommunications networks to collect and provide communications data of individuals or organizations to law enforcement officials.
Law enforcement agencies use this information for investigating and prosecuting criminal activities and terrorist operations.As the network architecture transitions from 4G to 5G, there will be several stages, each with its own challenges, and LI compliance will be a critical consideration at each stage to ensure data availability and accuracy.
The challenges of 5G Lawful Interception explained
Mobile network operators, like all communications networks, may be required to provide Lawful Interception capabilities to authorized law enforcement agencies. With the introduction of 5G comes fast mediation of broadband multimedia traffic and decreased latency, and as with any type of upgrade or update, interoperability is always a prime concern.
The regulatory requirement to provide law enforcement with access to and visibility of targeted users' communication content, in many ways, contradicts the increased privacy that 5G provides its users. What 5G does better than previous technologies is protect end-user anonymity within both radio and core networks. This is accomplished by enforcing identity concealment on the radio interface and encryption within the 5G core, and as a result, readily available radio monitoring capabilities cannot eavesdrop on attributable identifiers, and network administrators cannot peer into traffic as it passes through the network infrastructure. Furthermore, as mobile network operators will have their own security measures in place for their own subscribers, this will mean that they will be unable to access the subscriber data of the virtual operators they host.
Temporary and permanent identifiers
Temporary identifiers are now utilized in radio and core network signaling to protect user privacy. This prevents malicious actors from identifying users by passively intercepting signaling.
However, because intercepts are often based on permanent identifiers, this in turn has an impact on legitimate interception solutions.
This still means that Law Enforcement agencies will need to continue to ensure that their lawful inception maintenance systems are able to receive, store, and ensure that all data is managed correctly, meeting the specifications of Global Standards on top of the challenges that 5G presents. Besides this, because mobile users may be anywhere in the world, regional and international interception regulations must be followed in addition to technical considerations.
Utimaco is fully prepared for 5G LI and collaborates closely with leading network vendors and mobile network operators (MNOs). Our cutting-edge 5G LI solutions are ready to process and mediate tens of gigabits per second of broadband multimedia traffic and seamlessly integrate with standalone and non-standalone 5G networks.