Friday, November 16, 2007

Redacted: Blacking out PDF text does not delete it. Idiots.

This is old news, but I found a cartoon that needs this story. So, here it is.

It seems that a lot of folks, including the stellar legal team at AT&T, think that overlaying black or some other color on a PDF will cover up the text. Which it does.

Only if you select the covered-up text with your cursor and then paste it into another tool, like Notepad, viola, the text magically shows up.

Here's the initial story that prompted my search for a relevant photo. Sadly, it took me a year to find it! (I really wasn't looking.)

But now, many PDF creators allow one to properly redact information in a PDF file. One is the source of the picture above: ScanSoft.

AT&T leaks sensitive info in NSA suit | CNET "AT&T's attorneys this week filed a 25-page legal brief striped with thick black lines that were intended to obscure portions of three pages and render them unreadable (click here for PDF). But the obscured text nevertheless can be copied and pasted inside some PDF readers, including Preview under Apple Computer's OS X and the xpdf utility used with X11."