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Redaction Failures in PACER Documents

A few years ago, a survey by Carl Malamud revealed that PACER contained more than 1600 cases in which litigants submitted documents with unredacted Social Security numbers.

Now Timothy B. Lee of the Princeton Center for Information Technology Policy has
found thousands more PACER documents in which parties tried to redact sensitive information but the redactions failed for technical reasons. For more on the study, see the Center's blog.

With the prevalence of electronic filing, it's very important to know how to properly redact content. Lee recommends reviewing the National Security Agency's primer on secure redaction.

He also suggests using this simple step to check your redactions:

Regardless of the tool used, it's a good idea to take the redacted document and double-check that the information was removed. An easy way to do this is to simply cut and paste the "redacted" content into another document. If the redaction succeeded, no text should be transferred. This method will catch most, but not all, redaction failures.