How Not To Be a Redaction Headline

August 11, 2010

I don’t expect the world to live and breath redaction like I do. I understand why the rest of you don’t have Google alerts set for “redaction.” But surely most people have read at least a few of the recent redaction headlines?

First there was the Facebook v. ConnectU case, where the courts inadvertently revealed internal Facebook stock valuations. Or how about my personal favorite, the Transportation Security Administration posting an improperly redacted Screening Management Standard Operating Procedure manual on the internet.

These redaction headlines are especially relevant for attorneys and paralegals. Attorneys are responsible for ensuring redactions are accurate, even when their office staff perform them. Look at the GE sexual discrimination case, where the paralegals of the plaintiff’s law firm improperly redacted documents before filing them with PACER. The case was settled out of court, so it is hard to attribute consequences, but it seems likely that it impacted the outcome of the case and it certainly didn’t help the reputation of the firm.

I keep a list of these headlines and more (they are fun reading!) on our Redact-It website, and in reviewing them today I can only say, “Wow, people aren’t getting it.”

I admit the press is getting better at looking for it, but knowing that should only make people more careful.

To help out, I have a few steps you should take before posting, filing, or otherwise sharing sensitive documents.

  1. Pick a redaction tool, like Redact-It.
  2. Learn how to use it. Redact-It has Getting Started tutorials available from the product itself. Or call us and we’ll walk you through it.
  3. Select the areas on the document that you want to redact.
  4. Finalize the redactions (all tools require this step!).
  5. Check your redactions by copying the text and pasting it into Notepad or Word. If you can see the redacted text, something is amiss. Go back to step 2. Or call us.

If you follow these steps, you won’t be a redaction headline.

– Christine Musil

Informative Graphics Corp.

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