Since May 2018, data protection has become even more strict. The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is now mandatory for everyone who processes personal data. Many companies had to familiarise themselves with the 7 data protection principles and quickly adapt. The rules, however, can be hard to understand and harder to implement, which is why many companies have decided to employ a data protection officer (DPO). Hopefully, this article will help you understand a DPO’s role, when you should have one, and what benefits they could provide for your organisation. .
Regardless of your company’s size or industry, it handles personal data in one way or another. It is therefore obligated to have someone monitor GDPR compliance. However, there are three instances where having a DPO becomes mandatory.
Sometimes, an organisation might not fall under any of these three categories but could still benefit from having a DPO. I will explain later how they can assist with GDPR compliance. Many expanding companies seek out a DPO to help with the increasing amounts of personal data.
However, having a DPO may not be suitable for everyone. If you work in a small company, it can be a lot easier and cost-efficient to share the responsibility of GDPR compliance amongst multiple people. Or perhaps your organisation only handles minimal amounts of data that are easy to lawfully process. It is also possible that you have already developed a functional and efficient system that is in no need of restructuring. It all depends on your company’s context.
The DPO’s purpose is to ensure the company’s compliance with the EU regulations, which are enforced by the national data protection authority of your country. Infringing upon the GDPR could have grave consequences since organisations can be fined €20 million or 4% of their global revenue. Due to the confidential nature of their work, the DPO usually reports directly to the highest level of management without any interference from the organisation.
More precisely, the DPO deals with:
Finding a qualified candidate is the essential first step. Although the GDPR does not list specific requirements, they suggest that the DPO’s level of expertise should match the data operations’ complexity. Here are some suggestions for what you could look for in a candidate:
Searching for a new employee to fill the position can be challenging. Unfortunately, the demand for skilled DPOs is very high which means that hiring one can be timely and challenging.
However, a good place to start looking is your own IT or legal department, as they already understand how and what kind of data is processed. Since GDPR compliance is a very dynamic field, you must remain knowledgeable on the required level of protection and recent developments. If necessary, that employee should receive any necessary GDPR training or certifications.
Here is a short list of the ways a DPO can benefit you and your organisation:
As you can see, a DPO can simplify the daily operations within your organisation. They alleviate a lot of the pressure that comes with the lawful processing of personal data. The DPO takes on many responsibilities, can meet company set development goals and in the end, protect you from large fines and data breaches.
But having a DPO is not the end-all-be-all solution when it comes to data handling and may not always be a suitable solution. Like in many other areas of cyber security, every member of your organisation plays a crucial role in protecting and processing personal data. Therefore, every employee can benefit from awareness training. They should learn about what personal data is, what the 7 data protection principles are, how to handle personal data and much more. Therefore, increasing their awareness will help make your organisation more secure.
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