This timely and important entry is provided by Al Petrofsky on April 29, 2006:Your Honor,
With the impending flood of inexperienced electronic filers starting with the rule change on Monday, I would like to suggest that you write something on your blog at utd-cmecf.blogspot.com about the pitfalls of redacting electronic documents.
As an example of how easily things can go wrong, yesterday [a document was filed] in [a case filed in the District of Utah] that failed to properly redact anything. Although white block-out rectangles were placed over some pieces of text, the text can easily be recovered. (One method to do so, using the standard Adobe PDF viewer, is to select the redacted text with the mouse, copy it to the system clipboard, and then paste it into a word processor.)
Here is a selection of relevant references, from spooks, nerds, and clerks:
1. "Redacting with Confidence: How to Safely Publish Sanitized
Reports Converted From Word to PDF", National Security Agency, Report #I333-015R-2005, February 2, 2006. http://www.nsa.gov/snac/vtechrep/I333-TR-015R-2005.PDF
2. "Redaction of Confidential Information in Electronic Documents", Adobe Systems (creators of the PDF format), Technical Note, 2006. http://partners.adobe.com/public/developer/en/acrobat/Redaction.pdf
3. "Redaction of Information", United States District Court, District of Northern
California, Web site tip, May 2, 2005. http://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov/cand/faq/tips/redacting.htm
As the listed articles suggest, PDF redaction is not an intuitive process. Because of the multi-layer content of a PDF file (image and
metadata), redaction is not
process. Just like any other new tool, there are hurdles that will be overcome as we learn to work with PDF editing programs, but in the meantime inadvertent errors will occur.
The following graphic illustrates the ability to select text in a text based PDF even though it is concealed from sight by white rectangle graphics. The text remains part of the document unless effective redaction techniques are used. [This is a sample document, not intended by the submitter to be redacted; not the document referred to in the Petrofsky submission.] (click on the image for a larger view)
Here is the copied and pasted text, which includes text concealed from sight:4.) In negotiations with Google, this request was later narrowed to a "multi-stage random" sampling of one million URLs in Google's indexed database. As represented to the Court at oral argument, the Government now seeks only 50,000 URLs from Google's search index. Second, the government also initially sought "[a]ll queries that have been entered on your company's search engine between June 1, 2005 and July 31, 2005 inclusive." (Subpoena at 4.) Following further negotiations with Google, the Government narrowed this request to all queries that have been entered on the Google search engine during a one-week period. During the course of the present Miscellaneous Action, the Government further restricted the scope of its request, and now represents that it only requires 5,000 entries from Google's query log in order to meet its discovery needs.