Stephen R. Biss, Barrister & Solicitor is a sole practitioner law firm in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. I am committed to protecting the privacy of my clients and members of the public who visit my web site.
For the purposes of the privacy legislation, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, "personal information" is defined as any information that can be used to distinguish, identify or contact a specific individual. This information can include an individual's opinions or beliefs (e.g. religion or political affiliation), as well as facts about, or related to, the individual.
There are exceptions: business contact information and certain publicly available information, such as names, addresses and telephone numbers (as published in telephone directories) are not considered personal information. Where an individual uses his or her home contact information as business contact information, the contact information provided is regarded as business contact information and is not subject to protection as personal information.
I may collect personal information from clients and potential clients through face-to-face or telephone interviews. That information is bound by solicitor-client privilege and the Rules of the Law Society of Upper Canada. That information is not shared unless on the client's instructions.
Once a criminal charge is laid or a Court proceeding is commenced, the matter, the evidence, and the documents filed usually become a matter of public record. There are exceptions respecting charges laid under the Youth Criminal Justice Act because young persons need special protections respecting their identities. Lawyers and Judges use the general facts, issues, principles, and reasons laid down in previous cases as precedents for new cases. Often the name of the individual charged is used as the title of the case (eg. R. v. Smith or R. v. S.) If the case becomes appellate authority for an important legal principle it may become well known in Canadian legal circles (eg. R. v. Askov). Non-identifying general facts, issues, and reasons for decision in non-reported cases may also be helpful to other lawyers in discussing trends in the court system and to members of the public in assessing a lawyer's track record. During the period 1984-1994 I collected non-identifying sentence disposition information in the Brampton Youth Court Sentencing Database (Ages 12 -15). General information can be searched by the public using that database. A more detailed analysis on a (non-identifying) case by case basis is only available to judges and lawyers by passwords.
The operating system for my web site www.lawyers.ca may automatically record some general information about your visit, such as:
The Internet domain for your Internet service provider, such as "company.com" or "service.ca" and the IP address of the computer accessing the website, such as "ppp-55"; the type of browser (such as "Netscape version x" or "Internet Explorer version x") you are using; the type of operating system you are using (such as Macintosh, Unix, or Windows); the date and time you visit our site and the web pages that you visit on our site, along with the address of the previous website you were visiting, if you linked to us from another website. If you are a lawyer or judge who has logged into this site using passwords, your user name will be recorded along with the date and time of your visit, which pages you viewed, etc. I use this information to control entry to private areas and for statistical analysis, to help me make my site more useful to visitors.
The website may use "cookies" or "session variables" that identify you as a visitor holding variables constant. Browsers such as Netscape allow you to disable cookie collection if you wish, or inform you when a cookie is being stored on your hard drive.
I may share aggregate data respecting the use of my web site, namely statistics on the data listed above, with colleagues who are interested in the operation of my web site.
Since 1996, I have been encouraging high school students and others to participate in online debates and discussion groups including The Great Young Offenders Act Debate, The Great Youth Criminal Justice Act Debate, the International Drinking and Driving Debate, and other discussions. Participants voluntarily supply their opinions on a wide variety of legal issues. These submissions are stored in a log that lists the city, the date of submission, and the opinion of the writer. Every attempt is made to not record any identifying information. Participants should not include their name or email in their submission.
Since 1996, I have been encouraging other lawyers and attorneys in Canada and the United States to make free legal information available on the Internet. I believe that lawyers have a responsibility to educate the public about the law, always remembering that at a certain point an individual's specific question may require a face-to-face appointment and private retainer.
Some of the following sites are maintained by my company Allbiss Lawdata Ltd..
A number of Peel lawyers share the domain www.peelbarristers.com and are linked from its home page. The Peel Criminal Lawyers Association site can be found at www.peelcriminallawyers.com.
The Case Briefs database at www.casebriefs.net uses the same approach to permit lawyers an opportunity to share their case briefs. An interface with the Ontario Criminal Lawyers Association permits unique case brief comments for CLA members. The case briefs site is also available in a wireless format.
Stephen R. Biss, Barrister & Solicitor
303-470 Hensall Circle