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Subject: RE: new OASIS discussion list : XACML

> Nigel,
>> I do not see how to separate "an XML framework for exchanging
>> authentication and authorization information (SAML)" and "the
>> representation of access control policies as XML". It seems to me that
>> the later is a subset of the former.
> I disagree.  I think security assertions are (in the language of ISO
> 10181-3)
> subject control attributes, where as access control policies are just that
> --
> access control policies.  There is also such a thing as a target control
> attribute
> (e.g. a sensitivity label).  I don't think that any input document to
> SAML defines either access control policies or target control attributes,
> and I don't think that the document we finally produce SHOULD define
> of these.
> I can imagine a spec. which would define either or both of these other
> things,
> and I think that XACML is targeted at defining an XML format for access
> control
> policies together with a way to associate them with the documents they
> govern.

This is largely a question of viewpoint. However, from my viewpoint
the distinctions are not as clear as you suggest.

On the table we have S2ML which contains a mechanism to issue
authorization requests and responses for controlling access to
resources on a web server (statements of the form (verb,URI)). It is
not clear that authorization model that we will end up with. If
somebody proposes a more general model, will it be ruled out of scope?

Even what we have now in S2ML may be sufficient to provide some access
control policy information for XML documents.  Suppose the web
server in question is serving XML documents. It seems to me that what
is in S2ML would be sufficient to express some access control policy
information on those XML documents.

In the above you say that none of the current submissions define
access control policies, by this I assume you mean a framework for
expressing access control policies. I don't know exactly what you mean
by Access Control Policy. However, our own draft definition says "The
set of rules that define the conditions under which an access may take
place." It seems to me you could use S2ML to express a set of such

You also seem to be suggesting a split on subject versus target (or
security-object?) assertions. If the target is an active entity such
as a server, then assertions can be made about it using the proposals
that have been made to the Security Services TC. If the target is
passive (such as an XML document), then things are less clear. However
from my viewpoint, it would not be a massive extension to some of the
proposals to allow the subject of an assertion to be a hash (e.g. of
an XML document). This is a natural extension if you are familiar with
SPKI [RFC 2692, RFC 2693] which blurs these distinctions and allows
what I have described. Hence it's a question of viewpoint.


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