Posted In: Cybersecurity & Data Privacy & Cybersecurity & Data Privacy
on March 17, 2021
Do you need to appoint a data protection officer (DPO)? If your organization is covered by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it is possible that you have a DPO appointment requirement to fulfill. Many U.S.-based companies affected by the GDPR are in the process of revamping their data-processing practices and policies to ensure compliance with the regulation’s hefty list of requirements. One very important requirement on that list is the appointment of a DPO. You should take a closer look at the GDPR and your compliance project schedules to determine if your company may need a DPO.
What is a DPO?
A data protection officer is the individual responsible for facilitating a culture of data protection and privacy law compliance throughout a company. A DPO can either be appointed internally or outsourced. Although the GDPR requirement to appoint a DPO has increased the demand for individuals with the appropriate skill set to carry out the functions of the position, the talent pool of individuals with the necessary skill set and qualifications is very limited. Therefore, many organizations have decided to take advantage of the ability to externally appoint a DPO. If your organization needs a DPO, you should consider which appointment option would be more beneficial, whether that be an internal or external appointment.
Does Your Organization Need a DPO?
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) provides for several data compliance requirements. A DPO appointment is an organizational accountability requirement that applies to most corporations and government agencies. Generally, all public authorities must designate a DPO, and other organizations are required to if their core processing activities consist of collecting, storing, or monitoring personally identifiable information (PII) of E.U. citizens on a regular or systematic basis. To determine if your organization is required to appoint a DPO, you should seek the advice of data privacy counsel and analyze the nature of your organization’s data processing activities. Your organization must appoint a DPO when:
- Your organization is a public authority or body that processes data, except for courts acting in their judicial capacity;
- The core activities of your organization consist of processing operations, which by their nature, scope, or purposes require regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale;
- The core activities of your organization consist of processing special categories of data under Article 9 or Article 10 of the GDPR on a large scale; or
- Your organization falls under the PIPEDA compliance where a DPO must be publicly named and is held accountable for organizational compliance.
Although a vast number of companies may be required to appoint a DPO under GDPR, many others choose to appoint a DPO voluntarily. This voluntary appointment demonstrates an organization’s commitment to protecting consumer data. It is a progressive action that will reduce the risk of your organization mishandling data, mitigate potential liability in the chance of a data breach, and better position your organization for compliance with other data privacy laws and regulations.
What are the Benefits of Having a DPO?
Whether you are under an obligation, or take the initiative to do so voluntarily, you will find that there are several advantages and benefits to having a DPO on your team. All organizations that handle personal data need assistance from experts with technical competence, and would therefore benefit from having a DPO as they will:
- Conduct consistent audits of your organization’s data processing, identify privacy law requirements, and implement procedures for compliance and cybersecurity;
- Provide awareness training to your employees to increase uniformity in data protection practices throughout your organization;
- Monitor specific processes and conduct impact assessments of the data within your organization;
- Ensure that your organization has an incident response plan in the increasingly likely situation of suffering a data breach;
- Respond to Subject Access Requests (SARs) from data subjects in a timely fashion with the appropriate content;
- Create open lines of communication with supervisory authorities in the field of data compliance; and
- Provide advice on whether your commercial agreements and internal policies need to be redrafted with privacy law considerations in mind.
How Brouse Can Help
There are several important considerations you are likely to encounter when determining whether you need a DPO or deciding who to appoint as your DPO. Thus, it is best practice that you be advised before making such critical decisions. Brouse McDowell’s Cybersecurity and Data Privacy team can provide the guidance and tools you need to determine if you need a DPO and how to best choose an individual for the position. Along with providing insight to your business regarding DPOs, we also provide proactive solutions for companies to defend against cyber-attacks and general guidance through the complexities of data privacy laws and regulations. Our cybersecurity team offers a variety of data privacy and cybersecurity services, including pre-breach and cybersecurity planning, cybersecurity and data privacy transactional services, data regulatory compliance services, breach response and disclosure obligation services, cyber liability insurance review, and any related litigation issues regarding cybersecurity and data breaches (investigation, defense, insurance recovery and response). Please contact us for more information and to learn how we can partner with you.
This blog is intended to provide information generally and to identify general legal requirements. It is not intended as a form of, or as a substitute for legal advice. Such advice should always come from in-house or retained counsel. Moreover, if this Blog in any way seems to contradict advice of counsel, counsel's opinion should control over anything written herein. No attorney client relationship is created or implied by this Blog. © 2024 Brouse McDowell. All rights reserved.