Data Redaction: You’re Doing it Wrong

John Bambenek writes:

PDF files are a common way to distribute documents on the Internet and even are used for distributing documents with redacted (removed) content. However, when you distribute redacted documents make sure that the data you don’t want out there isn’t, in fact, still in the file.

Case in point, take the upcoming trial of former Governor Rod Blagojevich. He just submitted a motion to force President Obama to testify during his criminal trial. As you can imagine, there is sensitive information in the motion. You can read the motion here. The areas that are redacted are pretty obvious. Now, hit Control-A. Open a text editor or Microsoft Word (or the like). Hit Control-C. [Or use Control-C, Control-V — Dissent]

Hello, Mr. Face. Meet, Mr. Palm. This particular mistake isn’t new. There was a well-publicized SNAFU involving the US Department of Defense publishing a redacted document that contained classified information which was happily leaked on the Internet using the same method.

Read more on Although the judge called an emergency meeting Thursday evening over the redaction problem, the unredacted motion is now “out there.”

Thanks to the reader who sent in this link.

Cross-posted from

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