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A security label option that can be used to implement rule-based access controls for the protection of IEEE 802 local area networks (LANs) and metropolitan area networks (MANs) is defined. Information carried by security labels can be used to control access, specify protective measures; and identify handling restrictions required by a communications security policy. This standard specifies the syntax for the label and basic processing rules. Other information, such as label semantics and additional processing requirements unique to a security policy, can be specified via registration.