Overview

The Privacy & Access to Information legal area is fast-growing and nuanced. Technology is constantly evolving. In a quest for greater efficiency, client service and predictive marketing, companies are taking full advantage of increasing opportunities to collect and use the personal information of their customers and employees. Correspondingly changing legislative requirements, heightened societal awareness and deviously capable hackers mean that companies need to be constantly vigilant. In a world where so much of life and business happens over the internet, privacy risks are greater than ever.

Whether you are obtaining or maintaining client information for e-commerce, loyalty programs, or ongoing communication purposes, Harris & Company will help you to understand your legal requirements for protection and use of this information.

Our initial approach is preventative. We assist clients with regulatory compliance and help them to avoid breaches. We do this through education and training, helping to draft policies and contracts, providing opinions on compliance, and conducing privacy audits and impact assessments (to determine where gaps need to be filled).

However, where prevention is no longer possible, we use our extensive knowledge of the legislation and our considerable depth in mediation skills to assist public and private entities in narrowing or resolving issues and complaints. We prefer to avoid the cost of legal challenges where possible, but when they are necessary we will approach them as tireless advocates. We have represented clients in numerous complaints, inquiries and reviews before:

  • The Information and Privacy Commissioner of B.C.;
  • The Privacy Commissioner of Canada; and
  • The B.C. Ombudsperson.

We also regularly represent clients in arbitrations, court proceedings and in civil claims.

We are familiar with all of the pertinent provincial and federal legislation including CASL, the Federal Privacy Act, the Federal Access to Information Act, FIPPA, PIPA and the Privacy Act of B.C.

Harris has one of the largest Privacy Law teams in B.C., with eight lawyers and a team of paralegals to support them.

We serve private and public, provincially and federally regulated clients spanning a wide range of industries including:

  • Healthcare;
  • Education, including public and post-secondary;
  • Law enforcement;
  • Public sector employers;
  • Retail;
  • Professional Services;
  • First Nations and Aboriginal organizations;
  • Entertainment; and
  • Not-for-Profits.

Dealing with access to information requests

Privacy law dictates that on request, organizations provide individuals with rights of access to information. However, rights of access are not unlimited. It takes knowledge and solid judgement to determine what information can and should be disclosed in the face of potentially multiple access requests.

Further, organizations might not be equipped to properly handle the requests. For example, if the requests are linked to litigation, if the information might be used to general negative PR by the recipient, if the records are highly sensitive, or if the volume of requests is large, organizations may need more detailed help in responding.

At Harris, we are able to offer clients a request response process. Our team can review, organize and make detailed recommendations on what information can and should be disclosed. We can then process those documents thoroughly and efficiently for you — no matter how large the request.

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)

If you are collecting email addresses or disseminating email, your organization is subject to CASL. We advise organizations on their obligations, assist with due diligence, and advise on and implement policies, and assist with preparation of consent. We also keep you informed of new developments as future stages of CASL come into effect—helping you minimize your liability and avoid larger issues if and when legislation expands.

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