Data Protection Officer (DPO)
Written by Joseph Poppy on 07/11/19
Update: DPO duties during Covid-19
The UK’s response to the coronavirus outbreak has necessitated a huge shift in the way we work, which in turn has had a significant impact to the way organisations handle personal data. Whilst the initial scramble to set-up remote working schemes is now complete, how many businesses have reviewed their new processes and technology for data protection compliance? The answer is likely to be ‘almost none’, and as a result, could put many companies in breach of GDPR. The solution to this problem is simple: appoint a Data Protection Officer. It’s their job to ensure you’re meeting your data privacy and data protection obligations at all times and in all situations.
This article explains everything you need to know about the role of a Data Protection Officer: what they do, why they do it, when you need one, and what the benefits are to your business.
How to Hire a Data Protection Officer
Does my company legally need a DPO?
Since the introduction of GDPR, certain companies are legally required to have a DPO. Your business will need to appoint a DPO if:
You are a public authority or body
You will need a data protection officer if you are a public authority or body. Examples of these would be schools, hospitals, local governments or any publicly owned body.
Your core activities involve large-scale, regular and systematic monitoring of individuals
Large-scale, regular and systematic monitoring includes tracking and profiling. For example, the use of CCTV, or retailers monitoring the searches of their customer base to better target ads can be said to fall into this category.
Your core activities involve the large-scale processing of special category data
If your business is processing special category data, you are legally required to appoint a DPO. Special category data is personal data that sits in the following categories:
- Genetic data
- Trade union membership
- Sexual orientation
- Race or ethnicity
- Political opinions
- Identifying biometric data
If your company doesn’t fall into any of these criteria, you’ll still need to appoint someone to be responsible for public data, so a DPO is recommended anyway.
Right to not be evaluated based on automated processing
The right to object
The right to complain
Data subjects must be able to level complaints concerning the processing of their data. They must be made aware of how to go about this in a clear manner.
Who can be a data protection officer?
The DPO role can be filled by someone already working for your organisation. They should have no other duties beyond data protection. For example, someone within your marketing department could not also be your DPO as they’re likely to be the ones deciding what is being done with the personal data. Alternatively, you can give someone the sole role of data protection officer.
You can also outsource this role to an external company. This is often seen as a more cost-effective method, allowing businesses to pay only for the time needed. Outsourced DPOs will also already have the necessary data protection knowledge in order to carry out the role and, working with multiple companies, will have a wider pool of knowledge across numerous industries.
What qualifications should a DPO have?
What are the risks of not having a DPO?
If you are not legally required to appoint a DPO, you still need to appoint someone to be responsible for personal data under GDPR. You will still have to respond to queries and requests from data subjects in a timely fashion and cooperate with the regulatory authority in the case of a breach that poses a risk to data subjects’ rights. If handled incorrectly, your business could face serious legal ramifications.
Benefits of outsourcing DPO services
Many companies are offering an outsourced DPO service in light of GDPR and there are numerous benefits to choosing this option. First and foremost, outsourcing the role is often a more cost-effective solution. Your chosen DPO does not have to be in the office from nine till five, five days a week. In fact, you may find that you only need the skills of a Data Protection Officer for a number of hours every month, in which case outsourcing makes perfect sense.
When outsourcing this role, you are able to choose how much time the DPO is required each month and then pay for that time alone.
You also have access to a DPO who is completely independent of the business and therefore, there is no risk of a conflict of interest, and they can provide purely objective advice. Not only that, they will already be experts on data protection and know the ins and outs of GDPR.
As a DPO is likely to have worked for several different companies, the chances are they will already have experience of dealing with a data breach and will therefore have a plan ready to deal with this situation should you need it. They will certainly know the best way to go about collating all the data needed and how to present this to the regulator.
What does a data protection officer cost?
Cost of an in-house data protection officer
The average yearly wage of a dedicated in-house data protection officer is £49,000. You will also have to take holidays and sickness into account. There will also be costs in terms of human resources to consider as you advertise, interview for and fill the role.
Cost of outsourcing the data protection role
Outsourcing the DPO role can be an extremely cost-effective choice, particularly for SMEs. In outsourcing, you will only have to pay for the days required. Whilst the price can vary depending on individual requirement, approximate costs for outsourcing are:
|Business Size||DPO Time & Delivery||Cost Range|
|Small (< 20 employees)||Generally, 4 hours per month will be enough for a small business. Virtual delivery, with on-site visits once a quarter, is typically the best way to deliver this level of DPO service.||From around £600 pcm|
|Medium (21-200 employees)||We usually find that 1 day per month is enough for most medium businesses, though more may be required if your organisation is data-heavy or with multiple offices. On-site delivery is recommended.||From around £1,000 pcm|
|Enterprise||For larger companies that work across multiple sites and sectors, a bespoke package will be required. With more DPO time being required, a mixture of on-site and off-site delivery will generate best results.||Depends on requirements|
Does a data protection officer secure personal data?
Whilst a data protection officer is concerned with ensuring personal data is kept secure and private, they are reliant on all departments and members of staff when it comes to actually securing the data. For example, the IT team would be in charge of locking down folders. HR need to ensure they are following the right process and not sharing information with anyone who doesn’t strictly need it. A DPO can advise on these procedures and test any technical controls, but they will not actually implement them. In short, everyone is involved in keeping personal data secure.
Our DPOs are cyber security experts
Bulletproof’s DPOs are cyber-security experts as well as qualified EU GDPR practitioners. They have a wealth of data protection knowledge and can provide professional training (both GDPR and cyber security). They support a wide range of organisations of all sizes and industry sectors, successfully guiding them through the complex responsibilities.
Whether you are legally obligated to appoint a Data Protection Officer or not, there has to be someone who takes charge of personal data and its protection within every business holding data on EU/UK citizens. Having a dedicated DPO can alleviate the stress of having to maintain GDPR compliance along with seeing out other duties. It is a varied, time-consuming role which will be invaluable for protecting your business. Fines aside, a data breach or poor data management can have serious reputational impacts and any data subjects affected by the breach can make separate damage claims.
Be sure to make an informed decision when it comes to selecting your DPO. Whether you appoint a member of staff, hire a dedicated DPO or plan on outsourcing this role, be sure to go for an option that best suits your business.
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