Redaction

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How you redact can be as critical as what you redact.

A common error in redacting information is to use the wrong method to redact the electronic file. Below is a partial list of errors when redacting:
 

  1. Changing the font to white does make it look like the words disappear, but they don't! The words are still there and by highlighting the sentence or changing the text color, the original text can be seen.
  2. All word-processing programs (such as Microsoft Word, Corel WordPerfect, WordStar, etc.) retain a lot of hidden code (called "metadata") that can contain revision history and other information. This metadata can reveal many things that were previously contained in the file, even text that was deleted or changed, and even if the file was re-saved. This is a useful tool for tracking revisions, but if this information is not purged from the document, anyone can view this information, possibly even after it has been converted to PDF.
  3. Adobe Acrobat has some graphic and "commenting" tools which can cover remove sections of text. The edits these tools make can easily be removed by other readers to reveal the text underneath.
  4. Ink-marking or using semi-translucent tape or paper to cover areas of a document then scanning it can still allow enough information show in the resulting document for someone to see what was assumed hidden, especially if that same data repeats a number of times in the document.

Although the Court does not endorse and cannot recommend one specific way to redact information from documents being filed, the Court does recommend that each filer research appropriate redaction techniques for the documents filed.