The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) aims to guarantee a uniform level of data protection for natural persons within the European Economic Area (EEA). To ease compliance with the Regulation and ensure that applicable data protection measures are implemented and enforced, enterprises may appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPA). The appointment of such a compliance officer for matters relating to personal privacy and data protection is mandatory for public authorities; for enterprises whose core activities consist of regular and systemic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale; for enterprises whose core activities consist of processing special categories of personal data on a large scale; and, when Union law requires so.
Data Protection Officers are the point of contact for data subjects, supervisory authorities and the internal organization of the data controller or processor. Their role is protected and must be independent to avoid conflicts of interest and ensure accessibility and confidentiality. DPA’s can be internal staff members or external contractors. The employment status has no effect on the protections of the function. The independence of the DPA is furthered by the prohibition of influence by the controller, processor or their organization. As such the DPA cannot receive instructions on how to carry out any tasks, and cannot be dismissed or penalized for performing any tasks. Furthermore, the DPA has no personal liability for data protection obligations or breaches of the GDPR and other data protection regulation of the organization.
The Need to Appoint a Data Protection Officer
If there is one single thing that organizations have in common, it is the need to avoid wasting valuable time and resources. Although not every organization is required to appoint a DPO, there are several advantages to allocate a designated position for data protection and its consecutive regulatory compliance.
In line with most directives and regulation, definitions of the verbiage is crucial. This also applies to the GDPR Regulation. As such, expert knowledge is needed to follow up on the responsibilities under the Regulation. If no expert knowledge is available in a organization, it should be obtained.
Data protection and regulation such as the GDPR is a complex task. Controllers and processors must understand and implement different measures to protect personal data and comply with the regulation. Especially when regular and systematic monitoring of personal data is involved, the DPO is indispensable. Compliance with the GDPR is all about demonstrating internal actions. As such, controllers and processors should motivate and document their vision towards appointing a DPO, or not so they can demonstrate accountability.
The Responsibilities of the Data Protection Officer
As outlined in Article 39 of the GDPR, the DPO informs and advises his organization and its staff members about the obligations under the GDPR and data protection regulation. Other responsibilities include the monitoring of regulatory compliance; contact and cooperation with the supervisory authority; and, advice on and assistance with the Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) and monitor its performance.
To fulfil his duties, a DPO must be knowledgeable about data protection law. Due to the complexity of the applicable Regulation, merely a law degree without specialization might not be sufficient. As such sharing a compliance officer with other undertakings, or appointing an external consultant may solve specific GDPR challenges. A DPO must be easily accessible from each establishment, contact details of the DPO must be known by the organizations and the supervisory authority and data subjects must be able to contact the DPO directly and confidentially.
Efficient and Effective Tools for GDPR Compliance
The GDPR Regulation prohibits organizations, controllers and processors to prescribe the exact modus operandi of the Data Protection Officer. The DPO is instructed by the Regulation to guide the organization towards compliance. As such, organizations can implement a GDPR compliance framework, and the DPO may advice on efficient and effective tools for management and improvement.
The following tools for efficient and effective GDPR compliance are available for organizations, data controllers, processors and the DPO:
- Info Center: with a selection of 66 skillfully drafted documents that will give you all reports, templates, policies and guides you need to get the GDPR compliance job done;
- Mission Control: the 12 step approach guiding you on your path to GDPR compliance;
- Toolbox: A selection of 23 expertly designed and programmed tools to assist you on your implementation journey;
- Data Breach Support: Professional assistance is recommended and mostly needed when things go wrong. This breach support service is 24hrs worth of 1-2-1 support after you have identified a data breach. Once you have purchased this package and notified us that there has been a breach, we will kick into action to protect your customers, information and your reputation. We will investigate and reconcile your data breach, inform your customers and develop a strategy with you, to prevent and protect against further breaches. Most importantly, we will deal with the supervisory authority so you don’t have to.