“Redact This” – Fios’ New Tool For Reliable Redaction

Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 13:50

Webinar Presented by Fios, Inc.

Presenters: Don Whitehead, Product Manager at Fios, and Samantha Green, E-Discovery Counsel at Fios. Bryan McIntosh, Senior Relativity Manager for Fios, provided a demonstration of Fios Redaction Assistant™.

Green: For anyone who has worked on a redaction-heavy review with a looming production deadline, you know how labor-intensive and time-consuming the process is.  Fios is excited to share an automated redaction solution with you, Fios Redaction Assistant. Today we will discuss some common redaction issues, redaction-related case law, how to streamline the redaction workflow, and show a demonstration of Fios Redaction Assistant. We invite our viewers to go to www.fiosinc.com for a closer look at this innovative new product.

As you know, redacting is the process of removing privileged, confidential or personal information from a document before it is produced to the other side. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5.2 (Rule 5.2) tells us we need to redact, as do several industry-specific laws such as HIPAA. Rule 5.2 requires privacy protection for parties or non-parties whose information may be included in court filings, including Social Security numbers, tax payer ID numbers, birthdates, names of minors and other financial account information. Even with advanced technology, redaction remains a mostly manual process – extremely time-consuming and expensive, and prone to human error, posing a risk that sensitive redactions can be missed.  

Missed redactions pose many problems for counsel. The following warning should be taken to heart: “Inaccurate or inadequate redactions can be a serious threat to your case, your business, your reputation, your financial stability and even your security.” (Katey Wood, Analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group, Fios Redaction Assistant: Automating Redaction to Reduce Effort, Time, and Error, August 2012).

In a 2009 Facebook case, redactions were not adequately done. Facebook redacted a PDF with white rectangles to cover its own internal valuation, which was $3.7 billion. The Associated Press was able to remove these rectangles simply by copying and pasting, and leaked this information to the public – a disclosure Facebook did not wish to share. In a more alarming 2009 case, a secret TSA employee handbook, with redactions, was leaked online, but with only a few keystrokes, the redactions were easily removed. This was an embarrassment for the TSA and posed threats to national security.

Inadequate or missed redactions can also lead to sanctions. Due to increasing identity theft, the courts have become more intolerant of personal information left unredacted. For example, in Allstate v. Linea Latina, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint on the court’s electronic case filing system with birthdates, names of minors, and financial and other sensitive information unredacted. The court made it clear that it’s up to the parties to remember that documents are available over the Internet, and that attorneys can no longer blame their staff for the mishap nor can they feign lack of technical knowledge. In the second case, the defendant filed documents which listed the plaintiff’s Social Security number, exposing the plaintiff to identity theft. Counsel, who filed the document, checked the box indicating compliance with all the rules for electronic filing – most importantly that he understood the notice of redaction responsibility stamped in bold letters and that all Social Security numbers must be redacted. Again, the court granted sanctions.

In a final case, Social Security numbers and birthdates for 179 people were left intact and placed in an electronic filing system. The court stated it was deeply concerned with the harmful and widespread ramifications associated with negligent and inattentive electronic filing of court documents. It noted that although electronic filing significantly improves the efficiency and accessibility of our court system, it elevates the likelihood of identity theft. It’s imperative that lawyers redact all personal information and private information.

To address the risk involved with leaking personal information, Fios has launched Fios Redaction Assistant (FRA), which mitigates this risk by automating the redaction process for repetitive, patterned text. Now personal information can be redacted within the review tool Relativity, with a built-in quality control (QC) process, ensuring nothing is missed. No longer does an associate or contract attorney need to spend hours searching for repetitive data and drawing that little black box around it. Fios Redaction Assistant saves time, money and most importantly, mitigates the risk associated with missing redactions. Now my colleague, Don Whitehead, will discuss FRA in more detail, including workflow and built-in QC measures.

Whitehead: I’d like to introduce Fios Redaction Assistant, a Fios-developed Relativity application, which is fully integrated with Relativity powered by Fios®, an enhanced version of the Relativity platform that offers a number of Fios-developed and integrated technologies, extending the features and functionality of the standard Relativity offering. FRA significantly enhances Relativity’s redaction functionality by providing rapid redactions, automatically identifying and redacting sensitive patterned data and, in addition, providing built-in quality control along with an integrated workflow that provides easy to access, Relativity-based QC reports. This package is exclusively available from Fios.

The workflow is straightforward: the first step is to identify redaction patterns. Once you’ve identified redaction patterns, you can group them together into a profile. Following the definition of a pattern profile, you define the universe of documents to be redacted.

In Relativity, this ends up being a “saved search,” which can be the entire document universe or a smaller set of documents that you’ve chosen, depending on how you apply FRA in your workflow. After defining the document set, run Fios Redaction Assistant and then finally perform the QC checks by looking at the automated QC reports to determine which documents require further manual review.

FRA is not suitable for all redactions, but it is suitable for redactions that can be identified by a repetitive pattern. For an example of how you might save time using Fios Redaction Assistant, take a moderate-size document universe of 2,000 documents, maybe 8,000 pages or so, and estimate that about 12,000 redactions are necessary. We estimate that it requires about 200 hours of time to perform all of those redactions manually. Using FRA, with the same document and page count, and the same number of required redactions, we estimate that 30 percent of the redactions are FRA applicable. When we compare the time to manually redact these documents, 200 hours, with the FRA redaction time of 144 hours, we save 56 hours on this moderate-sized case.

The following is an explanation of how this works: FRA looks for redaction patterns in the documents’ extracted text; then using a process called OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to extract the text from the TIFF image, it identifies the redaction patterns in the TIFFs. Once the text is extracted, FRA then applies the redactions to that extracted text. The QC process involves comparing the expected redactions found in the original text to the redactions that were applied in the OCR TIFF text. If those two don’t match, then FRA flags that document as requiring further, manual review. If they do match, it “passes” QC. The recommended review strategy involves looking at all documents that require “further review” and potentially sampling those that passed.

With Fios Redaction Assistant, Fios clients are able to save time while improving redaction quality and consistency.

The webinar, including a demonstration of redaction with FRA and without FRA, is available without charge at www.fiosinc.com/redact. For more information, or if you have questions, please contact Samantha Green at sgreen@fiosinc.com.