Who is a Data Protection Officer?

Data Protection Officer (DPO) is a new leadership role that is created with the enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Data Protection Officer is responsible for supervising the implementation of the company’s data protection strategy to make sure it is compliant with GDPR and other applicable data protection laws.

What is the Data Protection Officer’s role?

Data Protection Officer (DPO) is obligated to monitor internal compliance and ensure that company or organization processes personal data in compliance with applicable data protection laws. DPO is responsible for demonstrating GDPR compliance and cooperation with the data protection authority.

DPO’s role is also informative and advisory. DPO is to advise the company about its data protection obligations and to align internal processes and navigate company policies to be compliant.

What are Data Protection Officer’s responsibilities?

Data protection office is a busy place with an extensive set of responsibilities. Here are the most important ones:

  1. Inform and advise the company (controller or processor) and employees how to be GDPR compliant and how to comply with other data protection laws

  2. Manage internal policies and make sure the company is following them through

  3. Raise awareness and provide staff training for any employees involved with processing activities

  4. Give advice and recommendations to the company about the interpretation or application of the data protection rules

  5. Handle complaints or requests by the institutions, the controller, data subjects, or introduce improvements on their own initiative

  6. Report any failure to comply with the GDPR or applicable data protection rules

  7. Monitor compliance with GDPR or other data protection law

  8. Identify and evaluate the company’s data processing activities

  9. Cooperate with the supervisory authority

  10. Maintain the records of processing operations

Do you need a DPO?

The size of your company is not the only factor determining whether you need to appoint a data protection officer or not. The essential will be the core-processing activities that are fundamental to achieving your company goals.

Public entities always have to appoint a DPO, with the exception of courts. In addition, the legal norm to appoint a Data Protection Officer has a flexibility clause to the Member States. They are free to decide whether a company has to appoint a Data Protection Officer under stricter requirements.

When do you have to appoint a Data Protection Officer?

You will have to appoint a DPO if you answer YES to any of these 3 questions:

  • Are you a public institution (courts excluded)?
  • Does your core activities involve regular, systematic and extensive monitoring of individuals? If your company is processing personal data to achieve the company goal or key objective, this is a core activity (like processing your customers’ behavior on the IPTV platform). Processing your employee data in order to pay off wages is not a core activity of the company, it is a regular secondary activity.
  • Does your core activities consist of large scale processing of special categories of data or data relating to criminal convictions and offenses? Special categories of data are the ones concerning ethnicity, religious or political beliefs, sexual orientation or health data.

Can You appoint a Data Protection Officer even if it is not mandatory?

If you asses that a DPO can help your company align internal processes to be GDPR compliant, you are free to do so. However, bear in mind, if you voluntarily appoint a DPO you will have to apply the same criteria and requirements as if he is appointed by law.

Which tools does a DPO need?

So, can a DPO really know how the company is processing personal data without an effective software? The answer is no. Without an effective tool, the DPO cannot understand, nor monitor, all of the personal data processing and fulfillment of Data subject rights. Learn how a DPO software can help you.

It is a company’s responsibility to ensure that the DPO can do her or his job efficiently.