U.S. District Court, Northern District of California guide on redaction.
Redaction Best Practices by Property Records Industry Association (PRIA)
Privacy, Public Access & Policymaking in State Redaction Practices
See how we helped Wayne Coates from Hamilton County, OH meet his redaction mandate.
Learn how we redacted 28 million records for Alameda County, CA in partnership with Extract Systems.
See why the State of Florida selected FNTI to ensure the quality of their redaction effort.
FNTI offers an expanded and upgraded document redaction service. Enhanced program features include greater redaction capacity and processing speed; a new, integrated business rules engine that can be configured to detect and redact any type of content, and advanced validation logic that enables a more thorough review of redacted elements.
In modern terms, redaction is a process of removing from or hiding sensitive information in documents. These can include documents in the public record, such as vital records that contain details about births and deaths, land records that may contain personally identifiable information such as Social Security Numbers, telephone numbers and financial information, and court records that can detail sensitive financial and personal information.
Redaction has its roots in 15th century literature. The term was used to describe a form of editing where several original works were consolidated (redacted) and edited to make them as single, authoritative piece. In the process, the person performing the redaction contributed elements of their own, occasionally reshaping the work to support their own beliefs.
Redaction may also be referred to as “sanitization” or “document cleansing”.
Using the contemporary definition of the term “redaction”, information is redacted for the following reasons:
Information may also be redacted to protect the welfare of individuals whose health and well-being may be affected by public disclosure, such as members of the judiciary and law enforcement.
Using the modern definition of “redaction”, information that is commonly redacted depends on the redaction mandate.
In cases where states mandate the redaction of personally identifiable data, the information that is redacted may be used to locate, identify or profile an individual in such a way that their right to privacy is inhibited, their welfare threatened, or their financial and personal security is placed at risk.
In national security instances, information that is redacted is at the discretion of the officials who oversee the activity. So, too, is the decision to redact information to protect the welfare of individuals whose personal welfare may be adversely affected through disclosure of personally identifiable information.
Private enterprises and individuals, operating with the advice of legal counsel, determine the information that is redacted or suppressed at the time they file information with the courts or public agencies. This can include information about business processes and methods and sensitive financial data such as project spending and compensation.
Redaction methods range from rudimentary to sophisticate. The particular redaction method used is often a function of volume: How many documents must be redacted and in what period of time?
This is as simple as placing black tape over information to be redacted, or covering the information using a thick, black marker (although the latter is not a sure-fire method. The color of the black marker must be identical to the color of the text it is hiding, or the two colors can be separated to reveal the underlying text).
The advantage of this method is in its thoroughness. Visual inspection and redaction is usually foolproof. The disadvantage is in the number of documents that can be redacted, as this is a fairly laborious process.
If the responsibility for redaction falls to the author of a document, he or she may employ redaction functionality available in the software used to produce the document.
Microsoft® promotes a free add-in for Microsoft Word® 2007 and 2010 that permanently redacts fields highlighted by the user.
Adobe® Acrobat® began offering a redaction function in version 8 of its popular software. Version X offers a redaction tools that allow you to redact information across pages (useful for redacting information in headers and footers), and to user-specified text boxes as well as images within text.
If you use a redaction function in word and document processing applications, be sure the final document does not contain metadata that may include information you manually redacted.
The benefits of using this method inures to the benefit of those responsible for maintaining and making available documents. By placing the requirement for redaction on the content provider, the responsibility – and the cost – is theirs.
There is a growing body of specialized redaction software designed as stand-alone applications and as integrated components of lager document management systems.
The benefit of using specialized redaction software it is usually well-suited for go-forward document redaction, where redaction is a component of the document management and publishing workflow. In addition, there are usually applications designed for specific professions and industries, further complementing workflow.
Some companies, such as FNTI, offer complete turnkey redaction services as an alternative to in-house redaction functions. These can accommodate all types of documents, from paper to microfilm and microfiche (once converted to document images, which is usually a first step in the service), as well as electronic documents exported from content management systems.
The benefits of Redaction as a Service is its high-volume capacity: some companies like FNTI can redact 100,000 or more documents per day. In addition, these services typically provide quality review processes that use automated and manual methods to review redacted areas and correct or amend areas in question.
Redaction as a Service is useful in situations where you have a large volume of historical records that must be redacted thoroughly and quickly, and you lack the manpower to redact the records yourself.
The answer to this question is determined by whether or not you can make redaction a part of your existing workflow. Here are some important questions to ask yourself:
If, however, you’re stretched thin by existing responsibilities, you do not have redaction software that complements your current workflow, or you cannot dedicate resources to support a proper redaction and quality management effort, you should explore outsourcing options.
The benefits to outsourcing the redaction function include:
Turn-around time: If your requirements for completing redaction are tight, consider outsourcing, where the ramp-up and training times are minimal and the capacity to process hundreds of thousands of documents per day is already in place.
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