Everything You Need to Know About Data Protection Officer (DPO)?

One of the first thoughts that cross a business owner's mind when they learn they must abide by the GDPR or any other data protection rule is, "Do I need a DPO?" But what is a DPO and what does a DPO do?
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The person in charge of data protection at a company is called the data protection officer (DPO). A DPO is not the same as a legal representative in a nation. Some data protection legislations, such as the GDPR, mandate that certain overseas companies appoint legal representatives in the EU to act as points of contact with the relevant authorities or data subjects. 


Do I need a DPO?

Not all businesses must designate a DPO, however some do. That is dependent on two factors:

  • Whether the applicable law requires you to appoint one
  • Whether you satisfy the legal standards and regulations that impose the obligation to name a DPO.

This implies that you must first ascertain whatever data protection rules are applicable to you before determining whether they call for the designation of a DPO.



For most businesses, a DPO is not mandatory under the GDPR. Only businesses that fulfill the following requirements are required to designate a DPO:

  • where the organization fall under the following industries:
    • Public agencies: any organization with administrative or functional responsibilities which are directly or indirectly affiliated with a governmental body of any nation, State, or local jurisdiction.
    • Advertising and analytic: companies that use digital tools to measure the effectiveness of a company’s advertisements
    • Financial: any firm or fund that makes venture capital or other investments, or that engages in investment banking, the mutual fund business, or the securities business
    • Healthcare: companies that provide goods and services to treat patients with curative, preventive, rehabilitative, and palliative care
  • where public authorities carry out the processing (excluding courts in their judicial capacity). This only applies to public agencies.
  • where the core activities of an organization involving processing require regular and systematic large-scale monitoring of a person. This includes advertising companies that process users’ behavior like Google and Facebook. Companies that regularly process geolocation, also fall under the scope of this requirement. Website analytics companies, no matter how big or small may also meet this requirement.
  • where processing on a wide scale of particular types of data or data pertaining to criminal convictions and offenses constitutes the primary activities of an organization. This applies to institutions like banks and hospitals that handle enormous amounts of patient financial or health data.

In all other cases, having a DPO is not obligatory, but it is a good practice. 



CCPA is the California Consumer Privacy Act. It is modeled after the GDPR. All companies that serve California residents and have at least $25 million in annual revenue must comply with the law. The CCPA went into effect Jan 1.2020, and the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), was approved on Nov 3, 2020. It significantly amends and expands the CCPA. 



The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) is a Canadian federal law relating to data privacy and contains various provisions to facilitate the use of electronic documents.

PIPEDA applies to federal works, undertakings or businesses (FWUBs). PIPEDA applies to the collection, use and disclosure of personal information in the course of a commercial activity and across borders. PIPEDA also applies within provinces without substantially similar private sector privacy legislation.

Since the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) was passed into law, it has expanded to cover most private-sector industries. This means if you want to continue doing business in Canada you need to know the top PIPEDA rules that apply to U.S. companies.


Are small businesses required to appoint a DPO?

The law generally does not differentiate between different sizes of businesses. All companies that satisfy the prerequisites for appointing a DPO are required to do so.

The European Data Protection Board also suggests appointing a DPO on a voluntary basis as a good business practice.


Who can be a DPO?

You can choose an internal DPO to fill the position, or you can hire an outsider. In fact, a lot of organizations provide DPO-as-a-Service. Who can serve as your DPO is not restricted by data protection legislation.

What are the DPO’s eligibility requirements? Data controllers are supposed to hire someone who is familiar with the requirements for data protection, but laws do not impose restrictions on data controllers about the qualifications of DPOs. Some of the expected qualifications could include:

  • Understanding of data processing operations in the company
  • Understanding of data protection laws
  • Understanding of IT and data security
  • Ability to promote data protection in the organization

This list is not all-inclusive. For certain organizations, but not all, it will be adequate. If your business handles a lot of personal data, you should choose a specialist to manage your processing operations. Such data processing operations carry a number of hazards that shouldn’t be taken by chance.

What does the DPO need to do?

Although it is rarely a full-time position, this one is crucial. The DPO’s responsibility is to monitor all data processing and make sure that it complies with all applicable laws. This entails keeping track of the personal data from the time it is gathered until it is deleted.

Data is a useful tool that businesses can use to operate more effectively, make better decisions, and establish a competitive advantage. Sadly, fraudsters can easily target today’s data if they want to gain access to and tamper with critical information. Because of this, cybersecurity is quickly becoming a top strategic concern for businesses of all kinds.

Security teams are working harder to build the skills necessary to prepare for and respond to cyberthreats as the threat from them increases. Additionally, as data volumes grow, businesses using remote working models must find a balance between efficiency and data accessibility while preserving security.

In addition, enterprises must secure the privacy of data in terms of how it is obtained, transmitted, and used in order to preserve compliance with GDPR and other data laws. Consequently, there is a large demand for regulatory data governance.


Why Data Protection And Cybersecurity Can’t Be Separate Functions

Security teams are working harder to build the skills necessary to prepare for and respond to cyberthreats as the threat from them increases. Additionally, as data volumes grow, businesses using remote working models must find a balance between efficiency and data accessibility while preserving security.

Enterprises must secure the privacy of data in terms of how it is obtained, transmitted, and used in order to preserve compliance with data laws. Consequently, there is a large demand for regulatory data governance. You can achieve a couple of benefits if you combine cybersecurity and data protection.

  • Prevent data breaches. By simultaneously monitoring data and systems, vulnerabilities and exploits are less likely to exist.
  • Address new online dangers. There are new threats that constantly put data and systems at risk.
  • Improve your management system for information security. As opposed to having separate infrastructure for data protection and cybersecurity, having a single pane gives you better control over your data.
  • Build a culture around cybersecurity. Reducing the likelihood of a data leak enables you to maintain compliance and avoid fines for noncompliance.


How To Combine Cybersecurity and Data Protection

Organizations should combine cybersecurity and data protection into their everyday process to adapt to data breaches effectively. Here are some of the more effective techniques:

  • Merge cybersecurity and data protection expertise. Your professionals will need a solid base of skills to protect important data from a variety of attacks. Your staff should be qualified to manage each company process from the angles of data protection and security.
  • Establish a detailed set of guidelines. You must make sure that the everyday operations of your business are meticulously organized in accordance with industry standards and security best practices. The architecture of your systems, maintenance, data management and access, and incident response should all be part of a comprehensive plan. There should be a responsible party assigned to each component of the strategy.
  • Conduct an integrated risk analysis. You might not have complete visibility into the security of your data if you use different tools and techniques for every category of danger. Use of end-to-end solutions that cover all forms of business, security, and compliance concerns is advised as a result.
  • Establish a shared attitude towards data security. Each and every worker needs to be aware that a data breach might begin with a commonplace action like installing a software as a service (SaaS) app that might be fraudulent.


Got Questions about DPO or cybersecurity?

Everyone deserves great cybersecurity. At Kobalt.io, we have built a team to provide full stack security and privacy services to our clients. If you have any questions regarding data protection or cybersecurity, rewatch our webinar on cybersecurity and data privacy challenges, or book a time to chat with us.

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