Bug 109199 - [Feature Request] (or extension): remove/block sensitive content
Summary: [Feature Request] (or extension): remove/block sensitive content
Alias: None
Product: LibreOffice
Classification: Unclassified
Component: LibreOffice (show other bugs)
(earliest affected)
Hardware: All All
: medium enhancement
Assignee: Not Assigned
Keywords: needsUXEval
Depends on:
Reported: 2017-07-19 07:42 UTC by ayito
Modified: 2017-08-08 12:01 UTC (History)
2 users (show)

See Also:
Crash report or crash signature:
Regression By:


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Description ayito 2017-07-19 07:42:23 UTC
Could be something as described in: https://helpx.adobe.com/es/acrobat/using/removing-sensitive-content-pdfs.html

Or even better, the issue is, while writing a report for internal (within the organisation) use, at some point there could be a need to make it available to public or third party, though with some sensitive information removed (or blocked).

For some documents already exported to pdf (and signed) I have recomended a solution mentioned in the link above, but for the new documents that are being made we have given instructions to users in order to use a combination of these techniques:

1.- Use conditional text, so there will be a variable with values 1 or 0, if it is 1 text will show, if it is 0 alternative text will show (for example "*****" instead of "hello"). Advantage: you can use more than one variable to control which text is displayed and which alternative text is, a lot of control. Disadvantage: time consuming, have to set it up for every text, and not very "user friendly". Have to use hidden text for the variable, not straight forward.

2.- Mark sensitive words you want to censor with an alternate style (for example a cloned style of the parent style) then when exporting to pdf, change the format of the style to something meaningful and make use of advanced search techniques and regular expressions so the specifically formatted text gets substituted by same amount of "*". Advantage: it works. Disadvantage: you need to remember to mark with the style and then change it, eventually there is a need to duplicate as many styles as needed if the words you want to censor are written in different areas (so parent styles) within the document. Also the user must learn regular expressions patterns, and advanced search and replace techniques, this is good but no so user friendly and straight forward.

3.- Plain and simple search and replace, so for instance, a passport number or a Name, Surname, Address... etc... any word you want to censor, could be easily be searched and replaced for any string that hides it "* * * * * *" or else. -> Adv: easy -> Disadv: in large documents with many different words it is kind of "manually" feeling and can lead to mistakes.

4.- Also we have instructed users to combine the above practices with the use of "versioning control" so they can get the uncensored document back or use the censored one, instead of saving to versions of the same document with different names (this may be good at the very end, when document is approved by management, original exported to pdf and signed). And to use "control of changes", notes and other techniques to get track of the censored or removed text.

So, I think I have expressed my feature request (or extension) kind of clear, in any case, I can make an effort to explain it clearer.

I was thinking of a feature (extension) so while writing the document, words or string of text could be easily marked (right click button and option or keyword combination) to be censored later, also let which kind of censor to apply (replace characters with specific symbol ex: "*", or gray out, black out, etc...), keep track of censored text, search in the document for similar text that have been unmarked, it might have been unseen or just plain forgotten, for instance, if I have marked 123456 (passport number) as sensible text to be censored, it will be nice to check if that pattern is in some other part of the document and unmarked, so it checks and tries to alert to possible mistakes (forgot to mark).

Also, the censured report could/should have an option to add a watermark to every page, so it is noticed that it is a censored document version from a full document with all the info in it.

That's about it, I know I should maybe try to start an extension about this... probably, but I need to get the programming/extension skills to do so and also first thing first, make it public so if anything is out there similar to this, maybe you can point me on the right direction.

Comment 1 Buovjaga 2017-08-08 09:00:33 UTC
You are right that this sounds more like a job for a 3rd party extension.
Comment 2 Heiko Tietze 2017-08-08 12:01:32 UTC
Another method is to use a dedicated character style for sensitive passages and make the font color black (not automatic) and the background as well before export. Furthermore, the character can be crossed out (font effect > strikethrough), which is not hiding it completely. But take into consideration that PDF and ODT will contain the text anyway unless you encrypt the file.

Finally, we have a working solution for the request.