Microsoft Fixes A Perceived Problem, But Leaves Another In Place

By at 4 August, 2005, 7:17 am

Everyone is aware (or should be aware) of the issues that Microsoft Word has with Metadata . To me, this is one of the largest issues that I have with Word. So far, Microsoft’s attempts to deal with this problem have been mediocre at best. With the issue of Word metadata still hanging over all of our heads, Microsoft, rather than fixing this issue, has now issued a means of redacting sensitive information from Word documents. So to be clear, metadata is still a problem, but now you can redact portions of a Word document to prevent inadvertent dissemination of sensitive information.

I wonder if this isn’t a result of recent failures by the military to redact sensitive information from Word documents that were released; after all, the U.S. Government is a huge purchaser of Word and other MS Office products.

As reported by InformationWeek

Microsoft on Tuesday published a free add-on to Word 2003 that lets users black out sections of documents by removing confidential information prior to printing or e-mailing.
Dubbed the “Redaction Add-in,” the 1MB download adds a new toolbar to Word 2003.
“Sensitive government documents, confidential legal documents, insurance contracts, and other sensitive documents are often redacted before being made available to the public,” Microsoft said in the accompanying notice.
Any text marked with the add-in is completely removed from the document and marked with black bars in both the on-screen and printed versions. A redacted version of the file can then be saved for printing and/or electronic distribution.
The add-in can be found on Microsoft’s Download Center.

While I don’t disagree that this is a worthwhile addition to have, I think that it side steps the real issue that is still presented by Word’s metadata. To be fair, WordPerfect and even Adobe Acrobat documents contain metadata, but the demonstrated ability to recover information using metadata from these programs files is much less than that from Word.

Categories : Hmmm! | Non-Legal Software | Software

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