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Personally identifiable information (PII) is a hot-button issue these days. If you've ever had your identity stolen, you'll understand why. Personally, I spent about six months clearing up my identity being stolen about a year ago. Lame.
If are concerned with PII in your Word documents—because maybe you are going to distribute the document outside of your organization—there's a nifty new feature in Word 2007 called the Document Inspector that you should check-out. Reed blogged about it awhile ago and I'm going to talk a bit more about it here. Specifically, and somewhat ironically, I'm going to tell you how to re-enable PII to be stored in your document after running the PII Document Inspector.
Since re-enabling PII storage in a document is much less common than removing PII from a document, the option to re-enable PII is relatively hard to get to, but it's there and it's useful if you've ever faced a situation like this: Sally's team is working on a proposal for a client. They sent a draft to the client on Monday and asked for feedback via tracked changes and comments. When Sally gets the draft back, she sees a bunch of tracked changes and comments attributed to "Author" [see Reviewing Pane on the left side of the screen shot below].
Because Sally is a ninja Word user, she knows that her client does not have some overachieving employee of her client named "Author," but that the client ran the PII Document Inspector after having their entire team review and mark-up the proposal. Running the PII Document Inspector removed all of the reviewers' names from the changes and comments and replaced them with "Author."
But now Sally needs to have her team review the revisions, and she doesn't want all of her teams' changes and comments to also be attributed to "Author." So, after opening the PII-free version of the document on her computer, Sally clicks on the Office Button in the top left hand of Word and clicks Word Options. After clicking on Trust Center, Sally sees the following and clicks on Trust Center Settings.
She clicks on Privacy Options and clears the check box next to "Remove personal information from file properties on save," and the she clicks OK.
Sally can now email the document out to her team with Track Changes turned on, and the names of her teammates will be associated with their changes and comments.
In short, Sally's client used the Document Inspector to make their changes and comments anonymous before sending it to Sally, and then Sally unchecked the check box that causes the anonymity to happen.
PII. Now you see it…now you don't…and now you do again.
Could you explain a little more? Why didn't the tool strip the "tracked changes?" And how is Sally able to undo what Sally's client did? This seems to give only a facade of security.
This information is very good to know. Already many questions have shown up in Windows Communities about this issue. Your explanation was a little unclear, though. From your description, this method does not reverse the previous loss of PII; it merely allows Word to start collecting it again or rather stops Word from stripping PII on save or close. Can one open the xml file and change reviewer names similar to the way one can do so to a RTF version of the W2003 file?
Hi Jeremy –The tool didn’t strip the tracked changes because it strips PII and tracked changes attributed to “Author” are not PII. Thus, the anonymous tracked changes remain in the document. Also, Sally is not able to undo what her client did. Her clients’ PII is out of the file. What Sally did was to enable new PII to be stored in the file. I.e. Sally can put new PII in the file but cannot bring old PII back. Hi PamC – You are correct that this method does not reverse the previous loss of PII [caused by running the document inspector]. As you stated well, this merely allows Word to start collecting PII it again, or rather, stops Word from stripping PII on save or close. -Jonathan (MS)
When I go to that location, I find that the "Remove PII" checkbox is grayed out. What's the deal?
Hi Dawn - The box is only active if the flag is set. To set the flag you can use the Document Inspector button right below the checkbox. -Jonathan
would like to use it, but the zip file is broken. tried downloading twice. thanks a lot for your work, great idea.
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