Redaction - Part III

Redaction - Part III

In this third and final installment of my series about redaction, I’m offering some “best practices” you may consider implementing at your firm. And not a moment too soon because it has happened again: annotations were applied to a PDF with the intention of redacting content – in a motion filed in
United States of America v Rod Blagojevich . The user appears to have used black highlighting and the underlying text – hidden but available - is now posted all over the internet. This could have been prevented with (a) proper redaction, (b) adding “no-copy” security, or (c) flattening the PDF before filing.

The list of best practices is extracted from a CLE we offer in New York, New Jersey, Florida, and Georgia (other states pending). The CLE is titled Managing Confidential Information: PDF Content and the Law, Ethics, and Technology of Redaction and MetaData (ethics only in New York state) and covers the information discussed in this blog (Redaction Part I, II, and III) – and more. The objective of the CLE is to help practitioners understand their legal obligations to redact content, and how the technology works when managing confidential information.

Here are several suggestions for Redaction Best Practices:

-Know your requirements. When are you legally or ethically required to redact content.

-Know the capabilities of your tools. Which version of Acrobat includes redaction, which does not as examples.

-Look for tools which integrate PDF creation and PDF redaction. This typically will eliminate steps and reduce the chance for mistakes.

-Know whether you’re working with an image-PDF, OCR-PDF, or text-PDF – and be sure your redaction tool accommodates each.

-Be sure you have discovered everything you intend to redact. Word and pattern searches may not be accurate enough especially with documents which have been OCR’d. Be prepared for manual inspection depending on the nature of the PDF files and the nature of your redaction targets.

-Check your work and challenge your assumptions. This sounds like common sense but we see the results of having skipped this step all too often.

Other suggestions are included in the CLE content but these are the essentials. They spring from common sense and knowing about PDF content, technology tools and good techniques.

Follow these best practices for foolproof redactions.

Email me for details about this blog or the CLE offering.