Data Protection Officer

Do You Need to Hire a GDPR Data Compliance Officer?

  • A Data Protection Officer (DPO) is a data protection leadership role, in which individuals are responsible for overseeing an organization’s full compliance with GDPR
  • GDPR rules mandate that every public authority/body must appoint a DPO
  • Data Protection Officers must be independent data protection experts, who report to an organization’s highest management level

Do You Risk Fines by Not Hiring a GDPR Data Protection Officer?

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect in May 2018. However, many businesses are still uncertain about their true compliance obligations. Chiefly, whether or not they need to hire a dedicated Data Protection Officer (DPO).

Do You Need to Hire a GDPR Data Protection Officer?

GDPR rules stipulate that any public body or authority which serves EU citizens must appoint a DPO. However, this doesn’t mean that just government authorities need to hire protection officers.

GDPR considers any organization which routinely processes large amounts of personal data a public body. This also applies to organizations which handle large amounts of personal data internally (employee and payroll information etc.)

What Are The Responsibilities of a Data Protection Officer?

Data protection officers are tasked with ensuring that organizations are fully aware of their full data protection obligations. Duties can therefore commonly include:

  • Advising organizations on how to ensure full GDPR compliance
  • Training staff in data handling and processing best practices
  • Overseeing implementation of data protection systems
  • Conducting audits to ensure GDPR compliance
  • Reporting and addressing potential compliance issues

A GDPR data protection officer must also report to the highest tier of management within an organization. They are also responsible for reporting issues to the ICO, for example in the event of a breach they must notify the ICO within 72 hours along with who has been notified as well as confirming the breach plan.

Data Protection Officer

Do You Need a DPO or Not?

At present, GDPR allows organizations to decide for themselves whether they need to hire a dedicated Data Protection Officer. However, as a rule, any organization which regularly processes large amounts of personal data and/or which occupies itself with large scale systematic monitoring and tracking of individuals will require a DPO.

It is also advisable that businesses which do not appoint a DPO, make a record of this decision and outline their reasons why. This record should also make clear that businesses believe they have adequate staff and resources to manage data they process securely.

Does Appointing a Data Protection Officer Limit Liability When Things Go Wrong?

Since being implemented, GDPR fines have been levied against several companies. These include major tech firms like Google and Facebook. In such cases, firms are required by law to appoint a Data Protection Officer. However, it is clear that fines are still applicable when non-compliance issues occur. Hiring a DPO does not, therefore, limit an organizations liability when things go wrong.

DPOs Should be Considered Advisors

First and foremost, Data Protection Officers create data protection policies in conjunction with various departments. Advising the staff of various policies which are implemented to ensure no risk of data loss. Hiring a DPO won’t, therefore, help businesses avoid GDPR fines in the event of a breach. However, it should be remembered that GDPR fines may be greater if during ICO investigations it is found that an organization should have appointed a DPO but failed to do so.


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