How to avoid the Manafort lawyers redaction mistakes

What happened with the Manafort redaction?

Last year, we learned how Manafort lawyers thought they had redacted documents, whereas in fact, the documents were able to reveal the information that was meant to be redacted. This caused a big blow to the case they had.

Why was the redaction not effective?

The tools used by the Manafort lawyer allowed anyone to copy over the redacted portions and  when they pasted the copied information somewhere else, that revealed the information that was supposed to have been redacted. This is because those tools did not destroy the information and the metadata of the original documents. One likely explanation is that the tools they used did not “flatten” the document, so even though they may have added a black box over the text, when the file is not flattened, it is possible to move the black box around and see the layer beneath it.

How to do redaction effectively: Secure redaction

Can we do secure redactions? Secure redactions have to get a couple of aspects rights:

  • The new marking/shading has to be something that cannot be pierced (even though the part to the naked eye may appear to be blacked out.
  • There should be no way for someone to reverse engineer the redaction process in order to find the information that was supposed to be protected.

Not all tools have Secure Redaction: Choose the right product

Choose a tool that has Secure Redaction. There are a few such as Adobe Pro and our own product Redacted.ai that have Secure Redaction.

Finding the right information to redact

Equipped with the right tool, you can now identify what information you would like redacted. For a small number of documents, a manual process can work. For a large number of documents, having a manual process only is likely to be expensive, slow and lead to many errors.


Redacted.ai is a smart redaction product that helps you auto-redact documents at scale. The product automatically highlights personal information, and you can add your own search terms. Redacted.ai was created by DocuVision Inc., a tech startup, invested in by UC Berkeley’s SkyDeck. Contact us here if we can help you.