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March 14, 2006

New article on Redaction

Adobe’s developer technologies team has posted a document on how to remove sensitive information from a PDF:


  • By John Dowdell - 10:43 PM on March 14, 2006  

    Hi Lori — I didn’t see mention of Appligent’s Redax in there — from what I understand this extension is a de facto standard at various US federal agencies — how does Redax fit within the total set of needs described in this document?

    tx, jd

  • By Lori DeFurio - 10:58 PM on March 14, 2006  

    Ah… no one is perfect – including Adobe Systems. The omission of Redax was an “accident”.

    Redax is a very integral part of many PDF redaction workflows, and used by many federal agencies to adhere to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

    The document is being updated as we speak, and I’ll repost to this blog when the updated version is live.

  • By Leonard Rosenthol - 7:58 AM on March 15, 2006  

    Another 3rd party tool that is very useful for helping in the redaction process is PDF Enhancer.

    First, if you wish to use the “Convert to Raster” method of Redaction instead of using a native tool like Redax, then PDF Enhancer can do the whole thing automatically via its “Selective Rasterization” feature.

    Second, PDF Enhancer is the ONLY tool on the market that I am aware of that offers a “Metadata Scrubber” – that will be sure to remove ALL instances of standard as well as custom metadata from a PDF. It has a list of dozens of different types of metadata that can be present in various places throughout a PDF and will be sure to remove them (if you enable the options to do so – which are on by default).

    It would be nice to see such things mentioned in an updated article as well.


  • By Duff Johnson - 5:29 PM on March 15, 2006  

    Omitting Redax is one serious problem with this document, since it’s been around for years and is a proven product with hundreds of thousands of seats installed. The other – and more fundamental – problem is that this document actually takes the NSA paper seriously with respect to the “solution” offered therein for redaction in PDF files.The NSA (and now Adobe’s) “solution” – to draw black boxes on the PDF, “burn” the file to TIFF and then re-import to PDF – is the sloppiest and lamest possible workaround to achieve redaction in a PDF. IMHO, this “approach” does a disservice to the format, and should not be proposed, supported or reccomended by Adobe Systems at all.Far better to simply highlight the fact that capable commercial solutions for properly redacting PDF do exist, identify them, and leave it at that.

  • By Marco Casario - 5:49 PM on March 15, 2006  

    Thanks Lori, let us know when the update process will be done !

  • By John Dowdell - 5:27 PM on March 17, 2006  

    Thanks for the context, Lori. For what it’s worth, this document on PDF redaction from the US federal government hit BoingBoing this week too: