I only want a particular action to be available to certain user types. Is there a way to 'bake' this in when I register the action in my module install file, or do I need to check authorisation in the actual action method?

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Actions (to clarify - entries in EE's exp_actions table) have no member group associations. If you want to allow only specific members or member groups to run an action, you will indeed need to write this logic inside your action method.

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