Program for removing sensitive information from a document
How to blacken or delete part of the text in a document on a computer?
Redaction in its sanitization sense is the blacking out or deletion of text in a document, or the result of such an effort. It is intended to allow the selective disclosure of information in a document while keeping other parts of the document secret. Typically, the result is a document that is suitable for publication or for dissemination to others than the intended audience of the original document. For example, when a document is subpoenaed in a court case, information not specifically relevant to the case at hand is often redacted.
For example, at present, court decisions in the Russian Federation, in accordance with the principle of publicity of justice, are available for those who want to get acquainted with them. But before making them publicly available, these decisions need to be corrected: personal information must be deleted from them, which includes: name of persons, their addresses, names of legal entities, amount of the dispute, etc.
Although there are some proprietary software applications in the market for this purpose, they have their own limitations like lack of support for open/libre document formats. Now it is possible to redact your documents with LibreOffice to remove/hide sensitive information. Thanks to LibreOffice's great support for various file formats, it is now possible to redact most of your documents without leaving the comfort of your favorite office suite.
The LibreOffice office suite is free, it has open source code, it runs on various operating systems, including Linux and Windows, it has good support for document formats of other office suites, including MS Office (Word, etc.).
Redaction tool in LibreOffice
The Redaction tool is a software function that allows users to edit documents and block words or parts of a document in accordance with the rules for permitted use or viewing.
The purpose of this tool is to protect confidential information and help businesses and other groups comply with rules, such as GDPR, for a given industry or document type.
The Redaction tool simplifies the tedious process of entering and changing data, as well as providing more comprehensive and consistent methods for protecting confidential data in documents. This has become very important in many types of industries, such as pharmaceuticals, medicine, healthcare, finance, banking, insurance, law.
Now, right in LibreOffice, you have the opportunity to use this practical tool with many improvements.
How does it work on paper?
Surprisingly, even in 2019, people still print their electronic documents. Manually edit them with a black marker, scan them, and then re-print and edit in the same places with a marker to make sure that the data is permanently hidden. It seems amazing to sit next to a powerful computer, which can easily do this, and at the same time manually draw on paper, print, scan, possibly even repeating the identical procedure 2 times. Of course, there must be a better way – and now you will get to know it.
How to hide some words in a document
1. Open your document in LibreOffice
2. Click (Tools → Redact) from the main menu, and wait for your document to be prepared for redaction (converted to an internal meta-format, and transferred to Draw)
3. Do the redaction by using the “Rectangle Redaction,” and the “Freeform Redaction” tools on the Redaction Toolbar
4. Save & share the in-redaction copies of the document with peers either in the modifiable (odg) or the verbatim (pdf) format at your option
5. Once you are ready to finalize the redaction, click the desired option on the “Redacted Export” tool on the Redaction toolbar
1. As a result, you will have a pixellized version of the redacted document in PDF. There will be no selectable text in it, and the redacted content will be non-existent.
2. During redaction, the redaction shapes will be transparent and in gray so that the user can see what they are redacting.
3. There are currently 4 tools on the Redaction toolbar (from left to right): Rectangle Redaction, Freeform Redaction, Redacted Export, Direct Export to PDF
4. The Rectangle Redaction tool allows the user to mark the content for redaction by drawing transparent rectangles covering the content
5. The Freeform Redaction tool allows the user to mark the content for redaction by drawing freeform lines/polygons covering the content
6. The “Redacted Export” button box has two options: “Redacted Export (Black)” and “Redacted Export (White).” When clicked, it will finalize your document (by converting the transparent gray redaction shapes to opaque black or white shapes), and export as a pixellized PDF file. The “White” option might be preferred to save toner while printing.
7. The Direct Export to PDF button allows the user to take an in-redaction copy of the document in PDF to share as a verbatim copy for review. Please note: in this option, translucent fields will remain translucent!
Can I be sure that my data has really disappeared?
It is important to be sure of this. There are various pitfalls: the hidden text should not only not become visible under some conditions, it should really be deleted from the document, otherwise it can be easily found. The file itself should not contain any metadata. In addition, elements embedded in it (for example, images) should not contain metadata.
The Redaction tool in LibreOffice approached this issue dramatically: data is ultimately exported to PDF files containing simple flat images on each page. If you do not see any line or any data, then they simply do not exist! Invisible pixels are not just invisible – they are absent. So yes, you can be really sure that your data is completely deleted.
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