Monday, January 31, 2005

Warning over Microsoft Word files

Some important points for public authorities to consider and also issues for clarification: should meta data be released as part of an FOI request? Much was learnt from meta data in word documents released from the Hutton enquiry. Many public authorities are using specialist FOI software such as Privasoft that will remove any traces of meta data and output FOI released documents as PDF files.

The issues for requesters are this: if you are asking for electronic documents as your preferred format you may have an interest in meta data -the authority should at least inform you as to what has been removed and why and offer the chance to appeal.

Issues for public authorities: there is a need for consistent policies and their application and use of technical solutions.

BBC News 28th January - Warning over Microsoft Word files
"Writing a Microsoft Word document can be a dangerous business, according to document security firm Workshare. Up to 75% of all business documents contained sensitive information most firms would not want exposed, a survey by the firm revealed. To make matters worse 90% of those companies questioned had no idea that confidential information was leaking....The Remove Hidden Data add-in is a tool that you can use to remove personal or hidden data that might not be immediately apparent when you view the document in your Microsoft Office application," says the instructions on Microsoft's website. Microsoft recommends that the tool is used before people publish any Word document"

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