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Protecting your data through redaction

To support the data protection community on Data Protection Day, we wanted to highlight one of the important ways you can protect personal information - redaction. In our latest research, redaction scored in the top three challenges that DPO’s face.

Why is redaction important?

Redacting a document allows you to remove (redact) any information deemed to be sensitive. This allows you to share documentation with a wider audience without fear of confidential information being exposed.

Redaction is a key piece of armour in the privacy professional's toolkit. When documents need to be released to others or into the public domain, redacting personal or sensitive information is critical.

Its importance was recently highlighted when the European Commission was redacting the AstraZeneca Contract but failed to redact the bookmark tab, rendering their previous redaction useless. Here we look at some of steps you can take to make sure you are redacting properly.

Best practice redaction

Can you redact digitally?

Throw away your redaction pens. With home working becoming ever present, redaction pens are redundant. Going digital makes all parts of the process not only possible, but also easier too, from making redactions in the first place, to managing internal reviews of the redactions made. Redaction can be quick and painless if your system has these features:

  • Search tools to find certain pieces of information to ensure you don’t miss anything.
  • The facility to mark pages as complete if you need to leave your work so you can restart right where you left off. This is particularly useful for long documents.
  • A text selection tool to highlight specific words or phrases or a tool to draw a box to redact larger blocks of text or images.
  • White redaction to change the aesthetics of your document.
  • An outline tool which allows you to view both the original document and redacted version at the same time, rather than having to get them side by side. This also helps when sharing documents with the ICO.

How secure is your final document?

If a redaction, in the redacted version of a document, can be undone, then the redaction is ultimately pointless. Using a tool that redacts to the National Archives’ standards means you can be assured that redacted information cannot be recovered and important data fragments, such as the document author, will be removed.

Does your redacted data have any other variants?

A common mistake is to only redact information of a single variant. There are occasions when the information you are redacting may be displayed in a different format. For example, someone’s first name and surname may be displayed as initials elsewhere in the document. Overlooking this will mean sensitive information could still be released.

Can you use a summary?

If large amounts of withheld information make the document unreadable or meaningless, then you should consider whether to share the document in the first place. For Freedom of Information Requests, the FOI Act allows a summary of a document to be prepared where over redaction makes the original document nonsensical.

Select the right tool

You don’t need to be paying for expensive 3rd party redaction software; eCase Redact can be included as part of the eCase correspondence case management service. Our redaction tool is built specifically for Information Rights professionals.

Contact us for a copy of the eCase Redact Factsheet and to find out how eCase can help your Information Rights team manage sensitive information better.

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