Policy-Based Access Control

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Full Title or Meme

Policy-Based Access Control or PBAC is any system where Access is mediated by Access Tokens that are evaluated by a digital policy language and policy control engine.


  • The most common Attribute-Based Access Control language XACML expanded their scope in version 3.0 to include the description Policy-Based Access Control although policy statement was defined in earlier versions.

Existing Languages

These are all written by geeks, and for geeks. What is needed is some policy that works in a real-world user journey. In other words, the user needs to be able to understand what is expected and when.

For more background see the page Policy Language.


They have been working with the government of Aruba and come up with the most through look at the problem in 2022. The have picked the unfortunate name of Machine Readable Governance, but it really is a description of the government's policy. Unfortunately, it might change daily and does not meet the requirement of testing by the user and remaining valid for even the duration of a flight from the US to the island.


This wiki page is interested in the machine-readable policy language and how it can be applied to access control.

Policy Distribution

Policy can be made at the government level or by a resource owner. When a user is attempting to access some digital resource or some real-world venue, it is typically important for the user to know if they have the credentials to achieve their objective in advance. For example, in the Biometric Pre-Check use case the traveler (denoted as the holder in the image below) is expected to be able to determine if they can pass through the check-in line before they even leave home for the airport. The solid lines in the figure below are data transfers. The dotted lines are physical presentations, not all of which are required in every case.


User Experience

It is expected as the Mobile Driver's License become commonly available that identity and health credentials will generally be available in the holder's Smartphone.


Other Material