As a criminal law firm in Ontario we recognize the importance of privacy and the sensitivity of personal information. As legal advisors we have an obligation to use reasonable efforts to keep confidential all information we receive within an advisor -client relationship.
Your Privacy Rights in Regards to Our Legal Services
From January 1, 2004, all businesses engaged in commercial activities, including criminal law firms in Ontario must comply with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (the “Act”) and the Canadian Standards Association Model Code for the Protection of Personal Information, which it incorporates. These obligations extend to criminal lawyers including myself. The Act gives you rights concerning the privacy of your personal information when your are charged with a criminal offence.
We are responsible for the personal information we collect and hold in our law offices. To ensure this accountability, we have developed this policy, and trained our licensed legal representatives and support staff about our policies and practices.
Why Do We Need Personal Information
We provide legal services to a wide range of clients. If we did not collect and use your personal information we could not provide you with our legal services.
We use your personal information for internal purposes. We do not share this information outside our law firm except with our approved agents, who help us to provide the service(s) you have requested. All of our approved agents are required to provide a level of privacy protection comparable to that provided in this policy and are not permitted to use your information for any other purpose, such as to market to you. We do not sell, rent or trade in personal information.
What personal information do we collect?
“Personal information” is any information that identifies you, or by which your identity could be deduced. For example we may collect the names, postal addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, age, credit card numbers, driver’s licence numbers, offence related information and driving record histories of our clients. Please note that “personal information” does not include information that does not allow an individual to be identified, information about your visit to our websites which is not linked to you, information about your computer’s operating system and web browser software (this technical information is verified to ensure that our websites are optimized to serve our customers) or, the name, title or business address or phone telephone number of an employee of an organization.
How do we collect your personal information?
We collect information only by lawful and fair means and not in an unreasonably intrusive way. Wherever possible we collect your personal information in an active fashion directly from you, at the start of a retainer and in the course of our representation.
Sometimes we may obtain information about you from other sources with your permission for example:
- from a government agency or registry;
- your employer, if we are acting for you, at your request;
- your lawyer or other professional advisor;
- passively by recording data on the history of your acquisition of services from us.
- from the courts in regards to your criminal proceedings or trial.
Consent for Legal Services
In most cases, we shall ask you to specifically consent, if we collect, use, or disclose your personal information. Normally, we ask for your consent in writing, but in some circumstances, we may accept your oral consent.
Use of Your Information
We use your personal information to provide advice and services to you, to administer our client databases.
We do not disclose your personal information to any third party to enable them to market their products and services. Your consent to our use of your personal information can be withdrawn at any time by following the directions at the end of this policy.
We will retain your personal information for only the period of time which is reasonable under the circumstances, or in compliance with the Law Society of Upper Canada as a criminal lawyer, and once your personal information is no longer required for the purposes discussed above, it will be deleted.
Disclosure of your Personal Information
Under certain circumstances, we will disclose your personal information:
- when we are required or authorized by law to do so, for example if a court issues a subpoena;
- when you have consented to the disclosure;
- when the services we are providing to you requires us give your information to third parties your consent will be implied,
- unless you tell us otherwise;
- where it is necessary to establish or collect fees;
- if we engage a third party to provide administrative services to us (like computer back-up services or archival file storage) and
- if we engage expert witnesses on your behalf;
- if we retain other advisors in other jurisdictions, on your behalf;
- if the information is already publicly known.
Updating Your Information
Since we use your personal information to provide services to you, it is important that the information be accurate and up-to-date.
Is My Personal Information Secure?
As a criminal lawyers we take all reasonable precautions to ensure that your personal information is kept safe from loss, unauthorized access, modification or disclosure. Among the steps taken to protect your information are:
- premises security;
- restricted file access to personal information to only those with a need to know;
- deploying technological safeguards like security software and firewalls to prevent hacking or unauthorized computer access;
- internal password and security policies;
- secure disposal of personal information no longer needed; and
- screening and training of personnel.
We cannot, however, guarantee that loss, misuse or unauthorized use will never occur (e.g. that someone will overcome our security measures or other criminal means). If you receive any electronic communication which purports to be from myself that you have any questions or concerns about, please contact us. Spam, improper use, and pirating of domain names and email addresses is a growing problem, so we appreciate hearing about incidents in order that we may investigate them and provide you the best customer service.
Access to Your Personal Information
We ensure that personal information is accurate, complete and up-to-date for the purposes for which it is used. If I hold information about you and you can establish that it is not accurate, complete and up-to-date, I will take reasonable steps to correct it.
Can I be Denied Access to My Personal Information?
Your rights to access your personal information are not absolute and we may deny access when:
- denial of access is required or authorized by law;
- information relates to existing or anticipated legal proceedings against you;
- the information was generated as a result of a formal dispute resolution process including a court case;
- when granting you access would have an unreasonable impact on other people’s privacy, security or proprietary information;
- to protect our firm’s rights and property;
- where the request is frivolous or vexatious or generates costs which are prohibitively expensive.
If we deny your request for access to, or refuse a request to correct information, we shall do so in writing and explain why. We do not use your Social Insurance Number as a way of identifying or organizing the information we hold upon you and will not record it even if you submit it.
Can I request anonymity?
Whenever it is legal and practicable, we may offer the opportunity to deal with general inquiries without providing your name (for example, by accessing general information on our website).
Communicating with Us
You should be aware that any channel of communication, such as e-mail, is not 100% secure, and you should be aware of this when contacting us to send personal or confidential information.
Requests for Access
If you have any questions, complaints or wish to access your personal information, please write to our Chief Privacy Officer, myself at:
Toronto Criminal Lawyer
1000 Finch Ave West, Suite 606
If you are not satisfied with our response, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada can be reached at:
112 Kent Street,
Ottawa Ontario, K1A 1H3
On our website, like most other commercial websites, we may monitor traffic patterns, site usage and related site information in order to optimize our web service. We may provide aggregated information to third parties, but these statistics do not include any identifiable personal information.
When you interact with our websites, we may use a browser feature, known as a “cookie” (which is a small computer file), to verify non-identifiable information about visitors to our websites and measure visitor traffic patterns. We do this to maintain the best possible websites. When you first visit our websites, the website manager may have implemented a program that creates a small computer file stored on your computer’s hard drive. We ensure that the minimum information required is placed in the cookie only so that we can recognize returning website visitors. The cookie does not contain personal information and we will not combine information in the cookie with personal information that would enable us to identify you individually. On subsequent visits to the website, our server communicates with your computer, reads the cookie, recognizes and confirms that you are a returning visitor. Our server uses this information to provide you with a “short cut” that facilitates the quickest, most efficient and best possible website experience.
Most browser software allows you to delete cookies. You should consult your ISP for information on how to delete cookies. This may interfere with our ability to personalize your experience at our websites and be recognized, or may slow down performance.