What Is a Data Protection Officer?

The essential responsibilities and importance of the data protection officer in ensuring data privacy and compliance.

Data Protection Consultancy

What Is a DPO? 

DPO stands for a data protection officer. A DPO is an independent data protection expert responsible for ensuring internal compliance with the Data Protection Act (DPA) 2018 and GDPR. 

A data protection officer works as an existing employee or is externally outsourced as required. They are an advisor for your organisation’s data protection obligations and provide support on data protection impact assessments (DPIAs). 

Additionally, DPOs are the main point of contact for data subjects and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).    

Who Needs to Appoint a Data Protection Officer? 

Under the UK GDPR, appointing a data protection officer is necessary if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are a public authority or body (except for judicial courts);
  • Your core activities as a data controller or processor include:
  • Regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a significant scale due to the operations’ inherent nature, extensive scope or purpose.
  • Processing an extensive volume of special categories of data as noted in Article 9 or data relating to criminal convictions and offences (Article 10). 

As defined by the Freedom of Information Act 2000, a public authority includes government departments, legislative bodies, the armed forces, NHS, maintained and academy schools, higher education institutions, police and other public bodies. 

What Are the Responsibilities of a Data Protection Officer? 

A data protection officer carries out many tasks, all of which must be reported to the highest management level of the organisation (the data controller). Part 3, chapter 4 of the DPA outlines the DPO’s role: 

  • To inform and advise the organisation and its employees about their obligations to UK GDPR and other relevant laws under Part 3;
  • To monitor an organisation’s compliance, including data protection training and GDPR audits;
  • To provide advice on completing DPIAs and ensuring compliance with it;
  • To serve as the primary point of contact for the Commissioner on processing-related matters, including data breach reporting; and,
  • To be the contact point for data subjects, including data subject access requests (DSARs).

As an organisation, you must ensure the data protection officer works independently and is not penalised or dismissed for performing their tasks.    

Do I need a Data Protection Officer (DPO)? 

You can voluntarily appoint a DPO even if you do meet the requirements set out in the UK GDPR. Your data protection officer will perform the tasks mentioned above to ensure your organisation complies with UK GDPR. 

At Data Protection People, we assist public authorities, organisations and other DPOs with impartial data protection expertise. Our Outsourced Data Protection Officers will work alongside your team, helping you stay compliant without the risk of employee absence or conflict of interest. 

Remain GDPR Compliant with Our Outsourced Data Protection Officers 

Our data protection officers are a cost-effective and expert solution for organisations seeking to fill their DPO requirements under the GDPR and DPA 2018. Outsource your DPO responsibilities today. Contact the team to learn more