Lawyer’s Duty to “Sanitize” Storage Media

The Florida Bar Association has recently published a professional ethics opinion on the duty of lawyers to ‘sanitize’, i.e. erase the memory of, storage media such as printers, copiers, scanners and fax machines.

The opinion explains why such devices even have memories; some of the older among us may not think of them as that smart! It also notes a duty to supervise staff whose job it may be to clear out the memories of these devices before the devices are returned to lessors, or sold, or even just scrapped.

I see that the Law Society of Upper Canada’s ‘technology’ section in its practice management advice mentions clearing computer hard drives before disposal, but it is silent on those spies in the mail room.

Do Canadian lawyers have a similar obligation to that of their warm-weather colleagues, just flowing from the usual duty of confidentiality about clients’ matters? Should this element of the obligation be specially underlined? Does it need this much detail?

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