Examination for Hidden Data before Publication
on Department of Commerce Web Sites


Before publishing information on Web sites, Department of Commerce organizations must ensure that no hidden information is inadvertently included.


All Department of Commerce Web sites, including intranet sites not available to the public.


To ensure that information published to Department of Commerce Web sites does not inadvertently disclose information not intended to be published. 



Deadline for Implementation:



This policy requires DOC organizations to evaluate documents before publication for the presence of unintended hidden information.

Care must be taken to ensure that information that is intended for internal use only, including hidden data and copies of previous edits, is not provided on any publicly available Web page. 

About Hidden Data:

Information published to the Web is created in many different ways and published in many different forms.  The universal language of the Web is standard hypertext markup language (HTML, XHTML, XML), but information is also sometimes disseminated in other forms, such as word processing files, slide presentations, specific portable document formats, spreadsheets, and even images.  All of these types of documents often go through many stages of editing before publication. Depending on the format of the document and the particular editing tool used, much of the editing information – including intermediate changes, comments, names of authors and editors, and even the original draft -- can remain hidden in the document even though, on its surface, the document appears to be in final form.  When this happens, it can be easy for a third party to view the hidden information.  Here is an example of a final document, and the same document with hidden data revealed.

Resources on Hidden Data

Revision History: 
8/22/2008: Approved.

Department of Commerce Web Advisory Council (WAC)
U.S. Department of Commerce

Send questions and comments about this page to WAC@doc.gov
Page last updated October 12, 2010