Controlling content your children have access to is a very difficult task. Even though multimedia content as video games or movies are classified, native-digital kids are usually able to circumvent such classifications or their parents’ willing. Seldom parents themselves are not fully aware about classification and what it effectively means. On the other hand many studies have highlighted the risks and possible issues kids may incur in the future if they are used to inappropriate content.

In a recently published paper we exploited the data usage control technology coupled with IFTTT (If This Then That) in order to verify that only appropriate content is shown to kids and that parental guidelines are always fulfilled.

Architecture Data Usage Control is a very flexible and new technology that goes beyond access control by having a module in charge of context continuous monitoring. In data usage control we ask data provider to define a policy which is that attached to data itself, i.e. sticky policies, that defines the conditions aka context under which data can be used. While in access control the context is checked only at the beginning, in usage control the module in charge of continuous monitoring checks the context in order to promptly react in case something bad happens and the policy is violated.
A typical policy example is the one of movie classification. There are different kinds of movie classification, in the paper we referred to the American movie classification which is based on two parameters: Audience and Content.

The audience parameter defines the minimum allowed age or under which conditions a particular movie can be reproduced, while the content parameter is related to the movie content. If a movie is classified as PG (Parental Guideline) it means it can be seen by children (below 18 years old) only if accompanied. With Data Usage Control there is a context check before the movie starts, to verify that all conditions are satisfied. This means that the system verifies that if there is a child watching the movie, then an adult is there with him. If, during the movie, the adult leaves the children unattended, data usage control system will detect the context change and will pause the movie until the adult rejoins the children. During time of so-called policy violation, i.e. the time in which children are left alone with the movie, the adult can receive a notification on their smart devices, as smartphone or tablet. In the aforementioned paper we leveraged IFTTT (If This Then That) (, a technology that helps in automating tasks by defining triggers and actions to do once the trigger is activated. In our example, the notification tells adults what to do if they want to continue the movie or if they want to stop the movie.

A movie is just an example, one can use the same technology to control resources in a smart home, so that policies are respected and usage of devices is compliant with regulation. A possible use case can be a videogame with adult content, or to allow the usage of PlayStation or Xbox only at specific hours. One can even mix console guidelines with content guidelines, so stating something like: from 6pm to 8pm PG classified movies are allowed.
Movie classification and enforcement is just an example of Data usage Control potential. Stay tuned to hear more about it and the various application fields.