When Special Counsel Robert Mueller released his report on Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election yesterday and political wonks across the internet rushed to download it, many people noticed two things: you couldn’t search for any text on the pages, and the whole file was really, really large.
If you were annoyed by either of those things, you probably weren’t nearly as ticked off as the PDF Association, which published a long explanation of just why the Mueller report PDF file was so bad.
“A Technical and Cultural Assessment of the Mueller Report PDF” is both an indictment of the Justice Department and a celebration of the venerable Portable Document Format.
It starts with some basic facts: the 448-page document is “of acceptable quality,” but it doesn’t conform to archival standards.
It was produced on April 17th on “probably a typical office network copier/printer,” and it uses lossy compression “more appropriate to photographs than to text.” The Justice Department might have gotten a high-quality PDF from Mueller, printed it, and re-scanned it, or Mueller might have delivered a paper report that the department scanned and released.
As the post notes, re-scanning makes absolutely sure there’s no inappropriate text data released, limiting people to the words they can see and the black redacted boxes.