Data Protection Officer (DPO): New Role Required for GDPR Compliance

A Data Protection Officer (DPO) is a new role required by GDPR. They ensure compliance with GDPR requirements. Here's everything you need to know.

DPO Definitiion

Before defining it, we need to answer the question, "what is DPO?" DPO stands for Data Protection Officer or Data Privacy Officer. It is a new role required by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). They are responsible for overseeing the company’s strategy and implementation to ensure compliance with GDPR requirements.

Importance of a DPO

GDPR is a set of guidelines that are meant to protect citizens in Europe. It calls for the mandatory appointment of someone called a Data Protection Officer, which every organization has to have if they process or store data on European Union citizens.

GDPR does not specify what they consider to be a large scale data handling. It can be determined by four factors.

Those four factors are:

  • Data subjects
  • Data items
  • Length of data retention
  • Geographic range of processing

There are no exact guidelines as to how big a company needs to be before hiring a data protection officer. However, most small companies will not have that need unless their core focus is collecting or storing people’s personal information.

GDPR DPO Roles and Responsibilities

The data protection officer is a mandatory job for any company that collects or processes personal information of EU citizens. The DPO’s responsibilities are to educate the companies and its employees about compliance, train staff involved in data processing, conduct regular security audits, serve as point-of-contact between company and Supervisory Authorities (SAs) overseeing activities related to data.

The DPO’s responsibilities include the following, but are not limited to:

  • Companies need to be educated on important compliance requirements, and employees should also know.
  • Data processing is a difficult process to teach, and I’ve found it’s best left up to the individual.
  • To ensure that your company is complying with all applicable laws and to address potential issues before they arise, you should audit the work environment.
  • Acting as the company’s liaison to GDPR Supervisory Authority
  • I oversee the company’s data protection efforts and provide advice on how to improve them.
  • It’s important to maintain records of all data processing activities, and make them available upon request.
  • When we talk to people about their information, we tell them what they can do and inform them of our privacy measures.

Requirements for Data Protection Officers

The GDPR does not list specific credentials for the data protection officer, but Article 37 requires them to have expert knowledge of data protection law and practices. The regulation also specifies that their expertise should align with the organization’s needs

Data protection officers can come from anywhere, but they must be accessible to all the related organizations. They also need their information published and given to regulatory agencies.

In order to have a Data Protection Officer, the person must not be in any position that is against their responsibilities. For example, if they are legally representing an individual or company for legal proceedings on behalf of them then it would be considered as having conflict of interest and therefore cannot serve as DPO.

Best Steps for Hiring a DPO

With the GDPR, companies have to hire a data protection officer if they are not in Europe but still handle EU citizens’ personal information. It is predicted that tens of thousands will be needed for all regulated organizations.

The best Data Protection Officer will need to have expertise in data protection law and a complete understanding of the company’s IT infrastructure, technology, and organizational structure. Companies should look for candidates who can manage their data protection internally while reporting non-compliance to other organizations such as Supervisory Authorities.

A DPO needs to have excellent management skills. They need to be able to communicate with both internal staff and outside authorities, as well as ensure that the company is compliant.

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