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    April 24th, 2008

    ♫ Cause everybody wants to hide their secrets away
    And that’s okay…♫

    Words and Music by Good Charlotte (Joel Madden · Benji Madden · Billy Martin · Paul Thomas · Dean Butterworth, Aaron Escolopio · Chris Wilson)

    If you have emailed a Word, Excel or even WordPerfect document to a lawyer or notary on the opposite side, you have most likely sent them confidential information that is buried in the document. The reason is that electronic documents contain information about the document and changes that were made to it (such as changing the contract terms or settlement amount). This data is hidden in the document, but it can be read by those savvy enough to find it, and is called metadata.

    Fortunately, Adobe Acrobat version 8 features metadata removal. Adobe Acrobat Professional version 8 contains the ‘Examine Document’ feature that allows you to go thru a document and determine if there is any metadata therein and allows you to take action accordingly.

    For lawyers for whom metadata is a particular concern, WordPerfect offers the ability to Save Without Metadata feature – allowing you to avoid any ethical difficulties by removing confidential information that can be captured into an electronic file and viewed by others. WordPerfect Office X4 – the latest office suite from Corel – offers the ability to strip away metadata using the built-in tool or to save the document to PDF format.

    Payne Consulting offers the Metadata Assistant that removes metadata from Word/Excel/PowerPoint (97 and higher) files. It integrates with Outlook 2000 and higher, GroupWise and Lotus Notes as well as with many document management systems. Payne’s Metadata Assistant also cleans and converts files into PDF format for additional protection.

    If you are using Microsoft Office 2003, Microsoft offers a free metadata removal tool that is described as follows:
    “With this add-in you can permanently remove hidden data and collaboration data, such as change tracking and comments, from Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft PowerPoint files.”

    You can download this tool from:

    http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=144E54ED-D43E-42CA-BC7B-5446D34E5360&displaylang=en (*or just Google Microsoft Hidden Data Removal Tool*)

    Microsoft Office 2007 has a built-in feature to remove metadata.

    These tools will allow you to send out your documents, secure that your secrets have been safely hidden away and that’s okay!

    This entry was posted on Thursday, April 24th, 2008 at 9:54 am and is filed under Issues facing Law Firms, Technology, Trends. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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