XML panel to help law enforcement

OASIS LegalXML Lawful Intercept Technical Committee

A global standards consortium has created a technical committee to develop Extensible Markup Language standards to help law enforcement agencies find and share evidence on suspected criminal and terrorist activity.

The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) announced Jan. 23 that the LegalXML Lawful Intercept (LI-XML) technical committee was formed to help meet agencies' information-sharing needs.

XML enables agencies to tag data, facilitating information exchange among applications and systems. The committee will work on ways XML can help smooth the process of obtaining lawful intercepts and ensuring security and authenticity.

Law enforcement agencies must go to several entities to obtain lawful intercepts while investigating suspected criminal or terrorist activity. The process is "slow, costly and inexplicably old-fashioned," said Tony Rutkowski, chairman of the OASIS LI-XML technical committee.

"Believe it or not, today, it's all done on paper," he said. "It's all done in ways built on some implicit trust."

Agencies can either get intercepts for phone calls such as when and to whom a call was placed, or intercepts for the actual information contained in the call. Court orders, subpoenas and records are typically faxed or mailed, making them hard to track and authenticity hard to ensure, Rutkowski said.

The committee is developing XML standards to structure the information to facilitate speed and trust between parties. The standards will also significantly lower operation costs, Rutkowski said.

Nearly 500 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in the United States with intercept abilities will be able to use the standards. On the federal level, several dozen agencies such as the FBI, Secret Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration will benefit from the uniform schema, as will larger city police departments on the state level.

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