OBJECTIVE & SCOPE OF POLICY
Gowlings takes the protection of Personal Information seriously. Our obligations as legal professionals are governed, in part, by the Rules of Professional Conduct which impose strict duties and obligations regarding the confidentiality of the information provided to Gowlings by its clients. These obligations apply to all professionals, employees, contractors and agents who provide services in connection with our delivery of legal and other services to our clients. Gowlings observes these requirements strictly. Gowlings also observes other applicable laws, including privacy laws, in all jurisdictions within which Gowlings operates.
PURPOSE FOR COLLECTION, USE & DISCLOSURE OF PERSONAL INFORMATION
As a general rule, all information concerning the business and affairs of a person or organization acquired (1) for the purpose of determining whether Gowlings will enter into a professional relationship or (2) in the course of a professional relationship shall be held in strict confidence and not revealed to anyone unless expressly or implicitly authorized by the person or organization concerned. A professional relationship develops when Gowlings agrees to be retained to provide services to an individual or organization. To protect their own interests, individuals or organizations should not send confidential information to Gowlings until they have had a direct discussion with a professional at the firm regarding the retention of Gowlings to provide legal services.
In the course of its relationship with you, Gowlings will need to collect, use and sometimes, disclose various types of Personal Information for various purposes associated with the scope of the work as directed by you or your organization. Given the nature of Gowlings’ services, it is impractical to list all of types of Personal Information that may be collected, used or disclosed. When Personal Information is requested from you, Gowlings will always explain the purpose for which it is needed. Under no circumstances will Gowlings sell, trade, barter or exchange for consideration any Personal Information it has obtained. You may be assured that Gowlings will only collect Personal Information that is necessary for the following purposes:
LIMITING COLLECTION, USE, DISCLOSURE & RETENTION OF PERSONAL INFORMATION
Gowlings may collect your Personal Information in many forms (hard/soft copy, electronically, facsimile, telephone conversations/recordings, etc.), but will only do so by lawful means and only for necessary purposes that have been disclosed to you.
Gowlings provides clients and others with general access to public web sites and restricted access to extranets. Our Web servers and authorized third party providers track general information about visitors such as their domain name, IP address and time of visit. Gowlings' Web servers also collect and aggregate information regarding which pages are being accessed as well as information volunteered by visitors through online surveys or subscriptions to electronic newsletters. This information is used internally, only in aggregate form, to better serve visitors by helping us to:
Personal Information collected in any form will only be retained by Gowlings so long as it is required: a) for the purpose for which it was collected; b) to be retained by law; c) to address any issues that may arise at a later date. When your Personal Information is no longer required for these identified purposes, Gowlings uses secure procedures to destroy, delete, erase or convert the Personal Information into an anonymous form.
Consent may be given in different ways such as: a) expressly by signing a document, agreeing through electronic means or verbally; or b) impliedly by providing the Personal Information voluntarily.
There may be circumstances where you have provided Personal Information for an identified purpose, and Gowlings later needs to use that information for a different purpose. In such circumstances, Gowlings will seek your consent to use the information for the new purpose.
Please note that there are circumstances where the use and/or disclosure of Personal Information may be justified or permitted or where Gowlings must disclose information without consent. Such circumstances may include:
You have the right to revoke your consent to the collection, use and disclosure of your Personal Information at any time. However, revocation of your consent may result in our inability to provide services to you. We will discuss with you the reason we need your Personal Information and why the revocation of your consent affects our ability to provide the service or product to you.
DISCLOSURE, STORAGE & SECURITY
Currently, Gowlings holds Personal Information principally in the cities in which Gowlings has offices or production facilities and nearby municipalities where off-site storage facilities may be located. Gowlings allows certain authorized third party providers to track and store certain information about visitors to Gowlings web sites (namely domain names, IP addresses and page views as described below) and such information will be stored outside of Canada if the third party provider is located outside of Canada. Personal Information is always subject to the local laws of the jurisdictions within which it is collected, used, disclosed and/or stored, and may be accessed by governmental authorities in those jurisdictions.
Personal Information may also be subject to transfer to another organization in the event of a merger, change of ownership, obtaining insurance or financing. This will occur only if the parties have entered into an agreement under which the collection, use and disclosure of the information is restricted to those purposes that relate to the business transaction, including a determination whether or not to proceed with the business transaction, and is used by the parties to carry out and complete the business transaction.
Gowlings has taken steps to maintain adequate physical, procedural and technical security regarding its offices and information storage facilities to prevent any loss, misuse, unauthorized access, disclosure, or modification of Personal Information (“Data Breach”). Gowlings further protects Personal Information by restricting access to those individuals that the management of Gowlings has determined need to know that information in order that Gowlings may provide its services. All Gowlings’ professionals, staff, contractors and agents are provided with training on maintaining the confidentiality and protection of the Personal Information provided to Gowlings.
No method of transmitting or storing data is perfectly secure. While the physical characteristics mail, telephone calls, faxes and transmissions over the Internet are different, each is susceptible to possible loss, misrouting, interception and misuse of the information being communicated or transmitted. In the unfortunate event of a Data Breach, Gowlings has procedures in place to contain the loss to the greatest extent possible and will comply with applicable breach notification requirements.
Gowlings attempts to strike a reasonable balance between security and convenience. In communicating with clients and others, Gowlings may request the use of a communication method that is less secure than more inconvenient alternatives. For example, email may be sent as unencrypted plain text because some of our clients and others cannot readily process encrypted e-mail. This is done for their convenience, but we expect that our clients and others understand that if misrouted or intercepted, unencrypted email could be read more easily than encrypted e-mail.
ACCURACY & ACCESS
Gowlings endeavours to ensure that any Personal Information provided and in its possession is as accurate, current and complete as necessary for the purposes for which Gowlings uses that information. In the event that you believe that your Personal Information is not accurate or you wish access to your Personal Information, you may make a request to the Privacy Officer.
We will always endeavor to provide timely access to your Personal Information. However, there may be circumstances where access will not be granted. For example, where access would lead to the disclosure of Personal Information of another individual and that individual refuses to provide consent to disclose or information subject to privilege or other legal restrictions. You will be notified in all cases of the reason for the denial of access.