When Redaction Goes Wrong

Redaction in the government space is used for a variety of reasons.  It might hide the details of a court case, important locations, or personally identifiable information.  While it’s a common process, there are still examples out there of when people get it wrong.

Redaction can help protect these things whether a document is made available to the public or if there may be a chance that hackers could get a hold of it.  Unfortunately for the city of Pittsburgh, their redaction process fell short, allowing anyone with a computer to review the information contained under redaction bars.  To make matters worse, the document in question is one that outlines vulnerabilities in the city’s security.

The document included important sensitive information, including the location of the city’s disaster recovery site and main data center.

This isn’t a one-off incident either.  Just recently, the Broward County school board released a document with details about the Parkland shooter in which a reader could easily bypass the redactions made to the document.

The importance of a good redaction solution can’t be understated, as it protects citizens from things like identity theft or the ability to be exploited in other ways.  Before deciding on redaction software, you should be sure that it can remove any metadata or invisible text, that it can completely remove any information under a redaction, and the ability to export your file in your desired format.

Overall, don’t take redaction for granted.  Improper redaction techniques expose governments and others to a great deal of liability, and cause headaches for every party involved.

Extract offers a redaction solution, I.D. Shield that guarantees 99% post-verification accuracy that will always be up to date with any redaction law changes.  If you’d like to learn more about how Extract ensures that private data stays private, please reach out today to schedule a call or demo.


Chris is a Marketing Manager at Extract with experience in product development, data analysis, and both traditional and digital marketing.  Chris received his bachelor's degree in English from Bucknell University and has an MBA from the University of Notre Dame.  A passionate marketer, Chris strives to make complex ideas more accessible to those around him in a compelling way.