Are You a Fledgling Data Protection Officer?


The data and security protection challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has substantiated what security professionals have stressed in terms of best security practices. With the remote workforce evolving continuously, strengthening data security has never been more vital.

In line with this, many organisations have hired data protection officers (DPOs). The DPO role was created with the enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In addition, many data protection courses have also been created to help those who want to hone their understanding of data privacy.

Data protection courses can also give DPOs  more knowledge and insight into international regulations. If you are considering a job as a DPO, below are all the basics you need to know:

The Lowdown on DPOs 

Appointing a DPO can provide competitive advantage for the business and facilitate compliance. It is also considered the cornerstone of accountability. Data Protection Officers also function as intermediaries between relevant stakeholders.

DPOs also facilitate compliance using accountability tools like data protection impact assessments. Apart from that, they also carry out audits to ensure compliance. The GDPR has set the minimum responsibilities for a DPO that revolve around the implementation of a data protection strategy.

DPOs also ensure compliance with the GDPR as well as other applicable data protection laws. DPOs also oversee the data protection and data privacy policies to warrant the operationalisation of the policies through all the organisational units. 

They also ensure that organisations are able to process the personal data or data subjects (customers, employees, other individuals) in a way that is compliant. Ideally, DPOs should operate independently, with the full support of the board and upper management.

DPOs should also have access to all the required resources so they can carry out their jobs effectively. 

The Role of the DPO

DPOs are required to monitor internal compliance and ensure that organisations or companies are able to process personal data in compliance with the data protection laws that are applicable. 

DPOs are also responsible for demonstrating GDPR compliance as well as cooperation with the data protection authority.

They  should also cooperate with other organisational units that are involved in the processing of personal data like legal, Human Resource, and marketing. 

That said, cooperation is crucial as it is impossible for DPOs to have continuous insight into the data and regulatory segment of all the business processes.

Tasks and Responsibilities of DPOs under the GDPR

A DPO  has various roles and responsibilities. Some of the most notable ones include:

  • Informing and advising the organisation (data processors or data controllers) and employees how to comply with data protection laws and the GDPR.
  • Managing the internal policies and making sure the organisation/company is following them through.
  • Raising awareness and providing staff training for employees involved with processing activities.
  • Providing advice regarding data protection assessment and monitoring its performance.
  • Giving advice and recommendations to the organisation about the application and interpretation of data protection rules.
  • Handling requests or complaints by the data controller, data subjects, and by institutions or introducing improvements on their own initiatives.
  • Reporting any failure to comply with the GDPR or applicable data protection rules.
  • Monitoring compliance with the GDPR or other protection laws.
  • Cooperating with the supervisory authorities.
  • Maintaining the records of processing operations.