Why Protecting Confidential Information With A Confidentiality Policy Is Important
Information has value. Whether a secret recipe, client data base or a method of production the most efficient in an industry, they all have value. Our company has spent time and resources gathering, researching, compiling or producing this information. Keeping this information secure is paramount to maintain that competitive advantage. Some information is required by privacy & confidentiality law to remain confidential. Kahane Law Office lawyers in Calgary, Alberta will help protect your business with a confidentiality policy.
What Is confidential Information?
Every company will have different types of information that it needs to keep confidential. A confidentiality policy will set out specifically what is protected. Your confidentiality policy lawyer can help you determine exactly what information has value to protect for your own business. Examples of confidential information include:
Confidential Employee Information
- Personal information
- Information in employee files
- Employee health care use information
- Employee misconduct / investigations
- Disabilities (short term, long term, mental or physical)
Confidential Management Information
- Employee disciplinary information
- Employee relocations
Confidential Business Information
- Trade secrets
- Material compositions
- Client lists & information
- Customer lists
- Business methods
- Material compositions
How To Determine What Information Is Confidential In Your Business
Working with your confidentiality policy lawyer, you will look at the following type of information. Specifically, you will look at what corporate information has value to the company. It is also worth looking at information that has value to your competitors should they discover it. Value can be determined by the revenue that can be generated from the information or the cost of developing the information. The next step is to determine how widely known that information is outside your company. Information that is generally known to the public is not confidential information. An information that would lead to an advantage to a competitor, even if it has little value to your company, should be treated as confidential information and included in your confidentiality policy.
Basic Set Up Of A Confidentiality Policy
A good confidentiality policy will be clear as to why certain information must remain confidential. It will clearly define and set out what information is considered confidential. The confidentiality policy will then set out that no employee, manager or contract person can disclose that confidential information. The policy can set out what procedures are to be maintained to protect the confidential information. A confidentiality agreement and/or a non-disclosure agreement generally forms part of the hiring process. Lastly, the confidentiality policy will set out the consequences of breaching the policy. Penalties can range from “write ups” to termination. It is essential to follow through with enforcing confidentiality policies. This area of law is so important, the Canadian Government has set up agencies and research into privacy and confidentiality in Canada.
A significant part of any confidentiality policy is educating those that it applies to. Your confidentiality policy lawyer can help with employee education.
Enforcing Confidentiality Policies
As stated above, it is essential to enforce non-compliance with a confidentiality policy. Failing to enforce the policy can lead to it being more difficult to enforce the policy and protect confidential information down the road. The courts rule that breaches of confidential information may lead to successful lawsuits against the company.
Useful Procedures For Protecting Confidential Information
The steps for protecting confidential information fit into two broad groupings. These groupings are physical confidential information protection and steps that are more procedural. Your specific confidentiality policy will set these out. For your business, consider the following:
Physical Confidential Information Protection
- Locking confidential information in secure filing cabinets in a secure room or office
- Electronic files should be in secure access servers, file folders and be both password protected and copy protected
- Establish electronic fire walls
- Use suitable encryption
- Establish sign in and sign out routines for confidential information
- Require the locking of file cabinets, offices and computers at night
- Restrict the removal of confidential information from the workplace
- Limit use of personal computer equipment in the workplace
- Mark all confidential information as “confidential”
- Establish secure document destruction measures
- Establish procedures for disposing of old or surplus office equipment with electronic “memories” including photo copy and computer equipment.
- Restrict electronic transmission of confidential information
- Restrict forums of discussion with respect to confidential information to secure / non public locations
Confidentiality Policy Lawyers In Calgary, Alberta
Protecting your company is important. This holds true for large and small companies. Often, smaller companies suffer greater, in relation to size, when a information breach occurs. The confidentiality policy lawyers at Kahane Law Office in Calgary, Alberta can help with drafting, and implementing your confidentiality policy. We can be reached toll-free at 1-877-225-8817 (or 403-225-8810 locally in Calgary, Alberta), or email us directly here.