Monday, June 02, 2008

2008-06-02 Think You've Redacted? Really? Think Again

The Register (the U.K. netzine) reports in an article appearing today that it appears that Google unwittingly reprised the "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" line from the Wizard of Oz. The Reg. reports that a 38 page .pdf posted in opposition to a plan by eBay Australia to force customers to use PayPal as sole payment vehicle became the object of intense scrutiny. This post, one of hundreds voicing opposition sent to the Australian Competition Commission and Consumer Commission (methinks the Aussie equivalent to our FTC) , was apparently the only one accorded anonymity by the ACCC. 38 pages of anonymity. First flag. The ACCC (and the apparent author's) anonymizing attempt fell somewhat short of complete success (as if anonymity could be "partial") because hidden among the metadata in that file (and revealed by reading the pdf in a text editor) was a line stating: "Microsoft Word - 204481916_1_ACCC Submission by Google re eBay Public_2_.DOC."

As with all ephemeral data posted on the 'net, the revealing .pdf was reported pulled off-line, and later replaced with a more sanitized version.

In behavior we are seeing more often, someone was smart enough to download the original post, and post it for ad eternam (well, maybe for a month or so).

Query: If this .pdf turned out to be potential evidence, it would certainly raise authentication issues --- Well, just because the .pdf indicates Google as the author, how (without some very interesting requests for documents, admissions, and depositions) might a foundation be laid that the author was, in fact, the Big (now stylized little) "G"?

The article:

Link to the original .pdf:

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