Redacting Documents and Records

Redaction is the process of concealing information while leaving intact the rest of the document or record containing it. This is commonly completed by ‘blocking out’ the material to be obscured but, as will be discussed below, other approaches may be more appropriate, convenient or effective.

There are many situations in which it is necessary or advisable to limit the contents of documents or files that are to be published or otherwise disclosed. A document with uncontroversial contents might also contain confidential or proprietary information that should not be disclosed to the intended recipient or the public generally. Rules governing official secrecy, legal privilege or professional confidentiality can restrict disclosure of information either generally or to specific classes of person.

In the context of data protection, the most common situation in which redaction must be considered is when responding to a subject access request (or ‘SAR’) under Article 15 of the GDPR. (For more information on SARs, see the DPC’s web page and links here.) This note will therefore focus on redaction in that context.

Redacting documents and records: Full guidance note