Another redaction gaffe makes headline news - this time it's the Department of Justice after they failed to redact certain key information from a court filing. The error made it possible to identify Google as the previously unnamed Internet company fighting the U.S. government to release law enforcement requests for data.
In the case of the DOJ, it failed to redact every instance of the word Google in the document. It should be noted that most software packages offering redaction have built-in capability to find every instance of a word or strings of words in a document and redact.
Redaction in the digital age
Redacting documents in the digital age is proving more complicated than it needs to be. So, why do so many get it so wrong? The first and perhaps most obvious question to ask is “do you have redaction software at your firm?” If the answer is no, then you need to get it. The same is true of metadata management software. Law firms cannot afford to expose themselves and their clients to unnecessary risk. If you do have redaction software, the next question to ask is “how does it handle different PDF types?”
Masking is not redacting
PDF documents are constructed in layers—for example, text is on one layer and images on another. Thus, using a redaction tool that simply masks the text or image is not a foolproof method of redaction as you are simply adding another layer to the document, which can be peeled back to reveal what’s underneath. You need a redaction tool that completely "burns out" or removes the text or image from the PDF document.
Not all PDFs are made the same
To add another layer of complexity to the redaction problem, you need to consider the underlying structure of the PDF. Depending on how the PDF was generated—ie a Word document converted to PDF, or a scanned document output as a PDF—there may be more than one layer of information that needs to be redacted. Problem: it isn’t always obvious what type of PDF you have.
Redact no matter what the PDF type
pdfDocs is our safe and secure method of redacting business-critical documents no matter what the PDF type. It completely “burns out” the text or area of the document and can handle all PDF types. In addition, pdfDocs lets you:
- Remove text and graphic images from the document permanently
- Search for and redact multiple instances of a word or string of words
- Use exemption codes to explain the redaction
- Edit the redacted area
- Redact a page or range of pages
- Protect the original from being overwritten
- Remove metadata from the PDF document