Starting from the insight that the harmonisation of classification schemes is neither desirable nor feasible due to different socio-cultural contexts of classification, technical interoperability between the existing schemes and their electronic labels is seen as a possible way ahead to optimise the efficiency of machine-readable age labels and their comprised rating knowledge beyond national borders, to extend availability of online classification labels as well as to wider and more innovative ways of use of user-side information tools in general.
Main objective: A common data model for online labels
Before this background, this Community Group aims at proposing a technology-neutral data model for electronic content labels including agreed categories and fields that may contain content-specific information. The proposal is planned to serve as a guideline for either existing players to implement the data model in their existing schemes or for new players that plan to label online content and thus reduce the risk of sunk costs. The proposal is planned to include documentation, code snippet examples and probable queries to support implementing the data model in existing classification contexts. By doing so, the Community Group hopes to achieve better interoperability of classification data and electronic age labels in practice.
Basic principles of a data model
The data model has to build on currently existing practices, as it otherwise would undermine the efforts already taken by both companies and rating bodies as well as the classification knowledge that goes with such labels. For companies and bodies that already label online content electronically, no disadvantages should result from a proposal made.
The three basic requirements the data model will therefore take into account are:
- The data model has to be technology-neutral to reach maximum openness and compatibility between different systems and languages.
- It has to consider existing electronic labeling systems to ensure that these are not undermined by the interoperable data model.
- It has to thoroughly take into account existing national and supranational classification schemes. By doing so, existing visual labels can easily be extended by respective electronic labels while at the same time ensuring compatibility with the data model.
One fundamental principle of the data model is that neither existing approaches and schemes nor future ones have to provide information in all categories – as long as the data that is provided by the label does fit into any of the categories, the system is technically interoperable. However, the more information a system or label provides, the better other systems will be able to use and process the data.
The relevance of interoperable labels for companies and users differ, depending on both the context of system environments (closed gardens: low relevance, open internet: high relevance) and the business case including the respective data transfers (B2B: probably lower relevance, B2C: high relevance). This results in a legitimate variance in company interest, while other relevant stakeholders (especially rating bodies, filter software providers, additional content providers, consumer associations, family associations) haven’t had the chance to participate in the discussions yet. Hence, this Community Group also aims at incorporating those bodies and/or their opinions in the discussion.