Subject RFC: scoped semantics profile for edupersonEntitlement attribute values.
From Niels van Dijk <niels.vandijk@xxxxxxxxxx>
Date Thu, 16 Oct 2014 14:02:59 +0200

Hi all,

Find below a RFC which defines a profile for scoping the values of the
edupersonEntitlement. Usecase, proposed usage scenarios and semantics
are described.

I propose to put the below RFC up for the REFEDs RFC list, but first
would like to get some further comments from outside of SURFnet.

We have introduced this profile in the SURFconext Federation about a
year ago and found it works well, also e.g. when working with commercial
service providers.

I welcome your feedback,




This document describes recommendations for handling of custom SAML
attributes, that is attributes not defined in well know schema for use
within SAML identity federations in Research and Education.

[RFC generic stuff goes here]

1. Introduction

Many SAML federations in Research and Education have standardised their
attribute exchange using two well know schema: eduPerson ([EDUPERSON])
and Schac (SCHema for Academia) ([SCHAC]). These schemas are commonly
used, and work well for exchanging attributes that are generally derived
from campus identity management systems.

However, use cases exist where these schema do not provide enough usable
attribute definitions. These cases range from service providers wishing
to define additional attributes to express licensing information, to
collaborative organisations wanting to express additional attributes for
authorisation purposes. These cases are typically so specific that it is
unlikely that adding specific attributes to existing schema is going to
provide a generic solution. Editors of the above schemas are therefore
reluctant to add these attributes.

The eduPerson schema does provide an attribute called
eduPersonEntitlement [EDUPERSON.edupersonEntitlement] in which the value
of the entitlement indicates a set of rights to specific resources. The
structure of the value itself is however completely semantically free,
which introduces challenges when using this attribute in multi-domain
scenarios, like for example interfederation.

For this purpose this document defines a RECOMMENDED scoped semantic for
edupersonEntitlement attribute values.

1.1.  REFEDS Document Process

The Research and Education Federations group ([REFEDS]) is the voice
that articulates the mutual needs of research and education identity
federations worldwide.  It aims to represent the requirements of
research and education in the ever-growing space of access and identity

From time to time REFEDS will wish to publish a document in the Internet
RFC series.  Such documents will be published as part of the RFC
Independent Submission Stream [RFC4844]; however the REFEDS working
group sign-off process will have been followed for these documents, as
described in the REFEDS Participant's Agreement [REFEDS.agreement].

This document is a product of the REFEDS Working Group process.

2.  Notation and Conventions

The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119 [BCP14].

3. Scoped eduPersonEntitlement values

3.1 Syntax

eduPersonEntitlement values MUST be valid URIs.

3.2 Semantics

3.2.1 Scoping requirements

Custom attributes expressed in the eduPersonEntitlement attribute are
commonly used for authorization proposes. As such a scoped version of
the attribute value of an eduPersonentitlement should include a scope that:
* Works within established definition of the eduPersonentitlement attribute
* Includes the authoritative source for its value(s).
* Prevents clashes between attribute values for different services.
* Allows for easy filtering, both for adhering to attribute release
policies by the Identity Provider as well as quickly determining
authorization by the Service Provider.
* Allows for fine-grained authorization at the Service Provider.
* Should not impose unnecessary restrictions on the semantics of the
actual attribute value to be transmitted.

3.2.2 URNs versus URLs

Though technically all of the scoping requirements can be met using
URLs, in practice it is easier to express the values as URNs as this
allows for using generic regular expressions to filter attribute values.
Therefore, to adhere to this profile a scoped eduPersonEntitlement value
MUST be expressed as a URNs [RFC3406]

3.3 Generic format

3.3 Scoped eduPersonEntitlements

A scoped eduPersonEntitlement value should have the following properties:
* it MUST contain the URN prefix,
* it MUST contain the namespace of the authoritative source for the
entitlement as defined per [RFC3406],
* it MUST contain the name of the service being targeted, for clarity it
is RECOMMENDED to express this as the FQDN of the service,
* it SHOULD contain the name of the entitlement,
* it MAY contain the value of the entitlement.

A generic example for a scoped eduPersonEntitlement SHOULD be formatted
as follows:


If only one attribute value needs to be provided or the presence of the
attribute value itself suffices, the entitlementName property MAY be
omitted as follows:


3.3.1 Service Specific Entitlements

The common scenario when using eduPersonEntitlement is that a Service
defines the value of the custom attribute it needs for its service.

urn:[service namespace]:[servicename]:{[entitlementName]}:[entitlementValue]

Note that the Service namespace needs to be formally registered unless a
prefix of x- is used to signify a custom namespace [RFC3406].


3.3.2 Identity Provider Specific Entitlements

In this scenario the IdP defines the entitlement value. In general this
is not very convenient, as this means the service will need to interpret
each entitlement value on a per Identity Provider basis.

	urn:[identity provider

Note that the IDP namespace needs to be formally registered unless a
prefix of x- is used to signify a custom namespace [RFC3406].


4.  Security Considerations
	This memo requires no addition security considerations beyond what was
already specified in the Normative References

5.  References

5.1.  Normative References

   [BCP14]    Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels ", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.

   [EDUPERSON] Internet2 Middleware Architecture Committee for
Education, Directory Working Group (MACE-Dir), eduPerson Object Class
Specification (201203),

[EDUPERSON.eduPersonEntitlement] Internet2 Middleware Architecture
Committee for Education, Directory Working Group (MACE-Dir), eduPerson
Object Class Specification 	(201203),

[SCHAC] SCHema for Academia, ,

[RFC3406] Uniform Resource Names (URN) Namespace Definition Mechanisms,

5.2.  Informative References

   [REFEDS.agreement] Research and Education Federations, "REFEDS
Participant's Agreement", <>.

   [REFEDS] Research and Education Federations, "REFEDS Home Page",

   [RFC4844]  Daigle, L. Internet Architecture Board, "The RFC Series
and RFC Editor", RFC 4844, July 2007.