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Secretary of State – Data Redaction Project


This U.S. Secretary of State’s office (SoS) is responsible for promoting public trust by safeguarding government records, preserving the integrity of elections, and providing the business community and public with easy access to information about corporations and charities. The SoS office is responsible for managing nearly 250,000 active user accounts in their corporate system for national and international corporations wishing to conduct business in their state. Of specific concern, are corporate filings made from 1992 and 2015, which have been stored in the system as images. Many of the approximately 10 million records in this category contain Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and Personally Identifiable Financial Information (PIFI), which was received prior to statutes making long-term storage of such data illegal by state statute.


SMX was engaged to develop a custom .NET Core application that was flexible enough to run on both Windows and Linux. The application needed to allow queries to be parameterized along with connection credentials in order to redact and modify entries in a given database. The application was deployed with connectivity to a target Microsoft SQL server database, pulled image sets based on the user queries, and then posted specific results to Google’s Cloud DLP service for redaction. Cloud DLP service uses machine learning to identify any PII/PIFI information, redacts those fields in the image, and then returns the redacted image to be updated in the database

The initial solution was deployed in under one month. The SoS office has been able to process more than 100,000 image files in a production environment. The tool allows them to run any query or stored procedure necessary to perform the redactions, while checking the accuracy and validity of results. This flexibility, combined with the power of Cloud DLP, ensures that PII/PIFI data can now be easily identified and redacted from these public facing records.

“We now have a tool capable of reviewing not just text, but handwritten documents that have been scanned two, three or more times, along with the ability to attack the most sensitive information such as Social Security Numbers, and refine the search from there”, states the Deputy Secretary of State. He adds that “we’re pleased with the solution provided by SMX because it supports our mission of safeguarding government and corporate records”.

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