What is a Data Protection Officer (DPO)?

The “new” Europe law, GDPR, is here for a year now but at this point what do you really know about this law?

This is a complex and with many interpretations but today we are just teaching you what a DPO (Data Protection Officer) is and what is its’ purpose, responsibilities and requirements.

Most of the small businesses don’t need a DPO unless your core business is data monitoring on a large scale.

But we’ll guide your further in this article about DPOs.


Definition of Data Protection Officer

A data protection officer (DPO) is an enterprise security leadership role required by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Data protection officers are responsible for overseeing a company’s data protection strategy and its implementation to ensure compliance with GDPR requirements.


Does your company really need a Data Protection Officer?

four key factors to determine if a dpo is required

It is mandatory to appoint a DPO if your organization processes or stores personal data for EU citizens.

DPOs must be, “appointed for all public authorities, and where the core activities of the controller or the processor involve ‘regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale’ or where the entity conducts large-scale processing of ‘special categories of personal data,’” such as race, ethnicity, or religious beliefs.

The GDPR law indicates that the size of an organization is not what dictates the need for a DPO, but rather the size and scope of data handling. GDPR does not specifically define what they consider to be “large scale” data handling. However, there are four key factors that governing authorities are using to determine if a DPO will be required.

Those four factors are:

  • Data subjects;
  • Data items;
  • Length of data retention;
  • The geographic range of processing;


While there are not exact guidelines around the scale of data handling, most small businesses will not be required to hire a DPO unless their core focus is data collection or storage.


Data Protection Officer Responsibilities and Requirements.

The data protection officer is a mandatory role for all companies that collect or process EU citizens’ personal data, under Article 37 of GDPR. DPOs are responsible for educating the company and its employees about compliance, training staff involved in data processing, and conducting regular security audits. DPOs also serve as the point of contact between the company and any DPA (Data Protection Authorities).

data protection officer responsabilities

As outlined in GDPR Article 39, the DPO’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Educating the company and employees on important compliance requirements
  • Training staff involved in the data processing
  • Conducting audits to ensure compliance and address potential issues proactively
  • Serving as the point of contact between the company and GDPR Supervisory Authorities
  • Monitoring performance and providing advice on the impact of data protection efforts
  • Maintaining comprehensive records of all data processing activities conducted by the company, including the purposes of all processing activities, which must be made public on request
  • Interfacing with data subjects to inform them about how their data is being used, their right to have their personal data erased, and what measures the company has put in place to protect their personal information


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