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Data protection officer

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A data protection officer (DPO) ensures, in an independent manner, that an organization applies the laws protecting individuals' personal data. The designation, position and tasks of a DPO within an organization are described in Articles 37, 38 and 39 of the European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).[1] Many other countries require the appointment of a DPO, and it is becoming more prevalent in privacy legislation.

According to the GDPR, the DPO shall directly report to the highest management level. This doesn't mean the DPO has to be directly managed at this level but they must have direct access to give advice to senior managers who are making decisions about personal data processing.[2]

The core responsibilities of the DPO include ensuring his/her organization is aware of, and trained on, all relevant GDPR obligations. Common tasks of a DPO Archived 2023-06-27 at the Wayback Machine include ensuring proper processes are in place for subject access requests, data mapping, privacy impact assessments, as well as raising data privacy awareness with employees. Additionally, they must conduct audits to ensure compliance, address potential issues proactively, and act as a liaison between his/her organization and the public regarding all data privacy matters.[3]

In Germany, a 2001 law established a requirement for a DPO in certain organizations and included various protections around the scope and tenure for the role, including protections against dismissal for bringing problems to the attention of management.[4] Many of these concepts were incorporated into the drafting of Article 38 of the GDPR and have continued to be incorporated in other privacy standards.[5]


  1. ^ "GDPR Official Text". EU Commission. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Data protection officers". ico.org.uk. ICO. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  3. ^ "What is a Data Protection Officer (DPO)? Learn About the New Role Required for GDPR Compliance in 2019". Digital Guardian. 2017-01-30. Retrieved 2021-05-02.
  4. ^ Meyer, David (6 June 2016). "What will mandatory DPOs look like under the GDPR? Germany could tell you". The Privacy Advisor. IAPP. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  5. ^ Hurst, Aaron (3 March 2020). "Why a data protection officer is needed within your company". Information Age Magazine. Bonhill Group Plc. Retrieved 13 March 2020. GDPR is no longer the only privacy standard out there. As these technical and regulatory challenges push us towards a more holistic approach to data protection, organisations will benefit from having a data protection officer...

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