Part 2: Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) – The Need for Redaction

Last week I posted a write-up on how document capture helps agencies respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Because FOIA requests continue to be paper intensive and requires searching for paper documents to satisfy a request, many agencies are making investments into document imaging for the purpose of turning paper into electronic information that can be quickly searched on, accessed, and delivered to the requestor electronically rather than through the mailing of paper documents.

How you turn paper into electronic information is the basis of what the goal is. But let’s not forget one key requirement which is how you will handle the redaction of sensitive data before sending those digital document images out. 

No document capture = a manual paper process involving a black marker for redaction

If you have not invested in document capture, your approach today for handling sensitive data on paper involves the old black marker. A FOIA request comes in, a government employee pulls the paper records, makes photo copies, breaks out the black marker, and proceeds with reviewing each and every document looking for sensitive data that must be redacted before the documents can be delivered off to a requestor.

Problem with this approach is it is extremely manual and costly to the agency.

Capture + redaction = a better approach

There are different approaches to using redaction technology within a document capture solution. A redaction solution that is integrated into document capture will either be a manual or automated solution when comes to redaction data. Both approaches are achieve the same end goal, and for some a manual approach may be “good enough” if the requirements do not demand a more sophisticated approach.

A manual approach would simply involve a user of the capture system, viewing the images on-screen and making a decision on what to redact.

In the case of an automated solution, the approach is automated and less reliant on an operator making the decision. With an automated approach, the “intelligent” capture solution plus redaction uses pre-defined index, text-based and/or zone based variables to locate and redact the information that needs to be protected. As in the case of Captiva Dispatcher, it provides this information, and redaction of the data can be performed automatically.

Once redaction takes place, users sometimes want to verify that the system got it right, in which case the redacted images(s) can be sent to a review queue where a human reviewer can perform a quick review of the redacted information. Once complete, the images are stored electronically in your content repository.

EMC Partner, PaperFree, delivers redaction solution for Captiva

One EMC partner who provides this solution is PaperFree. They provide a solution called BlackMark that is designed for EMC Captiva, the leading enterprise capture solution. With BlackMark and BlackMark+, PaperFree offers both a manual and automated solution to redaction. With the automated solution, BlackMark+, it uses EMC’s Dispatcher product to search entire documents, locating key information and then automatically redacts sensitive data.

Given many federal, state, and local agencies are overwhelmed by FOIA requests it is no wonder document capture is playing such a key role in providing a better (more automated) approach for these agencies. It is important to consider that while turning paper into digital information that can be stored and searched upon later in a central repository is one of the primary goals; we should not forget about how an agency will address the sensitivity of the information that they may be called upon to provide to the public.


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