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Microsoft releases metadata removal tool

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A year ago, 10 Downing Street published a dossier on Iraq's security and intelligence organisations. It was cited by none other than Colin Powell in his address to the United Nations. Then a lecturer in politics at Cambridge University discovered that much of the 19-page document was copied from three different articles, one written by a graduate student.

How did he know? In the document there was a listing of the last 10 edits of the document, showing the names of the people who worked on the file. These logs are normally hidden and cannot be viewed directly in Word.

MS Word is notorious for containing private information in file headers, but not any longer. Microsoft has quietly released a tool to scrub leaky metadata from documents edited with its software. The Remove Hidden Data Add-In will permanently remove hidden and collaboration data, such as change tracking and comments, from MS Word, MS Excel, and MS PowerPoint files. For Office XP/Office 2003 only, we should add. ®

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