Controlling the Clouds: Privacy Laws and Cloud Computing in Canada‘s Legal Sector


  • Shauna Claire Hall-Coates Dalhousie University


Information Policy, Cloud Computing, Legal Industry


This paper examines both the promises and problems posed by the legal profession‘s adoption of cloud computing platforms in service of its business objectives. Cloud computing models, defined as third party managed software, are rapidly becoming ubiquitous within technology-centric businesses. The legal profession is ostensibly an excellent candidate for the integration of cloud computing models due to its deep-seated information management needs. Nonetheless, this profession finds itself within an unnerving position in the face of government-mandated privacy laws and professional ethical standards that make any compromise of private information potentially devastating to a wide reaching net of stakeholders. Exploring the tenuous line upon which the legal profession treads in relation to cloud computing, the author ultimately concludes that what is most conspicuously absent within this current debate is a developed information policy which would provide the legal industry directives on how it should negotiate its way through this complex issue.

Author Biography

Shauna Claire Hall-Coates, Dalhousie University

JD/MLIS (2nd Year)


Baker, Jonathan. (2011, January). Flying in the clouds: practicing law by cloud computing. Florida Bar Journal, 85(9), 57-59.

Banks, Timothy. (2012, July 31). Cloud computing and the USA Patriot Act: Canadian implications. Internet and E-Commerce Law in Canada, 13(3), 20-23. Retrieved from Patriot_Act.aspx.

Brown, Jesse. (2013, February 6). Cloud hate: why Ottawa keeps losing our data. McLean‘s. Retrieved from

Buckler, Grant. (2011, December 1). Never mind the Patriot Act, watch your thumb drives. ITWorldCanada. Retrieved from

Chabrow, Eric. (2012, March 15). Avoiding pitfalls of cloud contracts. GovInfoSecurity. Retrieved from

Dodek, Adam. (2011). Solicitor-client privileges: challenges for the 21st century. The Canadian Bar Association. Retrieved from

European Parliament: Directorate General for Internal Policies. (2013, January 20). Fighting cyber crime and protecting privacy in the clouds. Retrieved from http://www.europarl.

Foley, John. (2008, August). Private clouds take shape. Information Week. Retrieved from

Fraser, David. (2011, April 18). Cloud computing and privacy FAQs. Canadian Cloud Law Blog. Retrieved from

Gallagher, Ryan. (2013, January 8). U.S. spy law authorizes mass surveillance of European citizens: report. Slate. Retrieved from 01/08/fisa_renewal_report_suggests_spy_law_allows_mass_surveillance_of_european.html

Himmelsbach, Vawn. (2011, June 8). Canadian cloud contracts: liabilities and limitations. ITWorldCanada. Retrieved from

Jackson, Brian. (2010, May 20). Canadian firms shy away from cloud computing. Retrieved from asp?id=57655

Law Society of British Columbia. (2013, January). Practice resource: cloud computing checklist. Retrieved from

MacLeod, Ian. (2013, February 2). Cloud computing law puts Canadian users at risk of snooping by American spies. Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved from http://www.ottawacitizen .com/business/Cloud+computing+puts+Canadian+users+risk+snooping+American/7907562/story.html

Martindale, Nick. (2011, August). In the future, cloud computing will be the only choice. The Telegraph. Retrieved from

McKendrick, Joe. (2012, April 30). Cloud could cut $12 billion from US government annual deficit. Forbes. Retrieved from cloud-could-cut-12-billion-from-us-government-annual-deficit-study/

Mell, Peter, and Grance, Timothy. (2012). The NIST definition of cloud computing. U.S. Department of Commerce‘s National Institute of Standards and Technology. Retrieved from

Michel-Adrien. (2011, April 25). Canadian law firms adopting cloud computing. Library Boy: Legal Research News from an Ottawa Law Librarian (Blog). Retrieved from

Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. (2009). Guidelines for processing personal data across borders. Retrieved from 2009/gl_dab_090127_e.cfm

Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. (2011). PIPEDA and your practice: a privacy handbook for lawyers. Retrieved from 201106_e.pdf

Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. (2009). Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. Retrieved from

Rennie, Steve. (2013, January 17). Government faces class-action lawsuits over student loan borrowers‘ lost data. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from

Thompson, Graham. (2011, January 20). Cloud computing, the Patriot Act, and you. Ottawa Business Journal. Retrieved from,-the-Patriot-Act-and-you/1


Additional Files