The Personal Information Protection Act (the "Act") governs the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information by private sector organizations in Alberta. "Personal Information" refers to information about a specific person. Umer Law understands the value of privacy and the sensitivity of the personal information we acquire in the course of our legal work.
We understand our professional responsibility to protect the confidentiality of our clients' information, as well as our responsibilities to protect the privacy of all persons whose personal information we collect, use, or disclose in our practice.
Our requirement for personal data
To provide legal advice to our clients, we must gather all essential facts and information pertaining to our retainer and our clients' representation. We may also require financial and credit information to ensure that we are paid for our services. This information will invariably include personal information about our clients as well as information about people who are not our clients.
Personal Information Gathering, Use, and Disclosure
We will try, whenever possible, to collect personal information directly from the person to whom the information pertains. We may collect personal information from other sources if the information is information that could be collected without the individual's consent. We will only collect the personal information required for the purposes stated in the preceding paragraph.
According to the Act, an individual is deemed to consent to the collection, use, or disclosure of personal information about that individual for a specific purpose if the individual voluntarily provides the information for that purpose and it is reasonable that the individual would voluntarily provide that information. By retaining Umer Law for legal advice or representation, an individual is deemed to have consented to the collection, use, or disclosure of personal information as necessary to properly advise and represent the individual.
In accordance with the provisions of the Act, it is our policy to collect personal information about individuals other than our clients.
When we collect personal information about individuals directly from them, we will inform them of the purpose for which the information is being collected, as well as the name of a person who can answer questions about the collection, unless their consent to the collection is deemed.
The Act also allows us to acquire, use, or disclose personal information about an individual in some circumstances without the subject's agreement. Examples of such situations include (but are not limited to):
the collection, use or disclosure is clearly in the interests of the individual and consent cannot be obtained in a timely way;
collection, use, or disclosure is reasonable for the purposes of an investigation or proceeding;
the personal information is available to the public from a prescribed source; or
the collection, use, or disclosure is required or authorized by a statute or regulation of Alberta or Canada.
We will take reasonable measures to ensure that personal information collected, used, or disclosed is accurate and complete. The Act also permits us to keep personal information for as long as is necessary for legal or business purposes.
Security of Personal Information
We recognize our professional and legal obligations to protect the confidential information of our clients. We recognize our legal obligations as well to protect the personal information we have gathered about our clients and about other individuals during the course of our practice of law. We have therefore made arrangements to secure against the unauthorized access, collection, use, disclosure, copying, modification, disposal or destruction of personal information.
Personal Information Access Requests
Individuals may submit written requests to us for the following items:
their personal information under our custody or control;
information about the purposes for which their personal information under our custody or control has been and is being used by us; and
the names of persons to whom and under what circumstances their personal information has been and is being disclosed by us.
We will respond to requests in the time allowed by the Act and will make a reasonable effort to assist applicants and to respond as accurately and completely as reasonably possible. All requests may be subject to any fees and disbursements the law permits us to charge.
An individual’s ability to access his or her personal information under our control is not absolute. The law provides that we must not disclose personal information where:
the disclosure could reasonably be expected to threaten the safety or physical or mental health of an individual other than the individual who made the request;
the disclosure would reveal personal information about another individual; or
the disclosure would reveal the identity of an individual who has in confidence provided us with an opinion about another individual and the individual providing the opinion does not consent to the disclosure of his or her identity.
The legislation further states that we have the option of not disclosing personal information in the following circumstances:
the personal information is protected by any legal privilege;
the disclosure of the information would reveal confidential commercial information and it is not unreasonable to withhold that information;
the personal information was collected by us for an investigation or legal proceeding;
the disclosure of the personal information might result in similar information no longer being provided to us when it is reasonable that it would be provided;
the personal information was collected or created by a mediator or arbitrator in the conduct of a mediation or arbitration for which he or she was appointed to act
under an agreement,
under an enactment, or
by a court; or
the personal information relates to or may be used in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion.
The Act specifies that it is not to be used in any way that would undermine any legal privilege. When the applicant is not the client with whom the privilege is vested, we will not divulge confidential information.
Personal Information Correction Requests
Individuals may submit written requests to us to correct errors or omissions in their personal information that we have in our custody or control under the law. We will either: correct the personal information and, if reasonable, send correction notifications to any other organizations to whom we disclosed the incorrect information; or decide not to correct the personal information but annotate it that a correction was requested but not made.