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Roles and Responsibilities of a DPO

Roles and Responsibilities of a DPO


A Data Protection Officer does that job and they in a manner play the role of both a teacher and a leader. Their job revolves around making the people in their organization aware of the GDPR principles and policies and making sure that the data privacy guidelines are complied with. A data controller or a data processor is mandated by the GDPR to appoint a DPO.


The GDPR mandates for a data controller or a data processor to appoint a DPO as per its Article 37. As per Article 37, companies can be exempted from appointing a DPO unless they engage in any of the three practises as mentioned below:

  1. The data that is being processed is carried out by a public authority or body, not including courts who are processing such data under the judicial discharge of their duty.
  2. Where processing is a core task at the organization and it requires regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects at a large level.
  3. Where the core activity as mentioned above also includes processing of the data that includes special categories of data as defined under Article 9 of the GDPR and data related to criminal convictions and offences as defined under Article 10 of the GDPR.

So, yes it is necessary for you to appoint a DPO in cases your organization processes data that falls under the purview of any of the three above mentioned practices. A DPO can be either a staff member or a contractor who has been appointed as a DPO as per the terms in the agreement and the DPO is allowed to fulfil other tasks and duties for as long as they don’t result in a conflict of interest.


Yes! A single DPO can be appointed by a group of undertakings or several public authorities and the information regarding such appointment should be shared with the supervisory authority.

Added to this the controller and the processor are not supposed to be instructing the DPO on how their job and tasks are to be carried out and neither can they penalise nor dismiss the DPO.

Further, the position and the tasks of a DPO are mentioned in Articles 38 and 39 respectively.


As mentioned above the tasks and roles of a DPO as mentioned under Article 39 of the GDPR, are not exhaustive, meaning they are not limited to those mentioned below;

  1. The employees of the company are educated with the necessary policies and other compliance requirements.
  2. Providing adequate and necessary training to the staff involved in the data processing.
  3. Conducting audits to verify compliance to the policies and resolving the possible concerns in a proactive manner and not reactive.
  4. Playing the role of serving as the company’s point of contact for GDPR supervisory authorities
  5. Monitoring the organization’s performance and advising on the impact of data protection measures that are in place.
  6. Maintaining detailed records of all data processing activities carried out by the company, including the purposes of those actions, which must be made public upon request.
  7. Informing and interacting with the data subjects to tell them how their data is being used, their right to have their personal data erased, and the security measures in place by the company to protect their data.

It is also important to understand that the responsibility of compliance with the GDPR of the organization is not on the DPO but rather on the data collector and data processor who is also required to demonstrate the compliance set up in the organization.


Like any other job role, requirements from a DPO can vary depending on the needs and circumstances of the organization that is looking to appoint them, hence it is always preferred that the DPO appointed other than having the knowledge of the policies should also be aware of how that particular business operates. Added to this, there is no article of the GDPR that talks about or mentions any specific professional qualities that should be considered when a DPO is being appointed and since the role of a DPO is crucial in an organization since non-compliance to the policies could potentially lead to huge fines there is always pressure on organizations for choosing the right candidate.

Therefore, a basic necessity in appointing a DPO is that they should have a command if not expertise in international and European data protection laws and should have extensive knowledge of the GDPR. The most common requirements for a DPO are as given below:

  1. Prior experience and knowledge in Legal, data compliance, audit, or IT security.
  2. Knowledge of data protection legislation, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and related national laws
  3. Prior experience in monitoring regulatory compliance and interacting with regulatory organisations.
  4. Expertise in the practical application of privacy laws
  5. Direct experience with computer security systems
  6. Knowledge on how to handle data breaches
  7. Prior Experience in cooperation with supervisory authorities of any kind
  8. Understanding the business environment and the risks involved with data protection
  9. Prior experience in conducting data protection impact assessments
  10. Recognizing the GDPR’s requirements as per the organization’s functioning.

A DPO should generally have strong management abilities and be able to communicate effectively with both internal and external stakeholders at all levels. Even if the company faces substantial fines, the competent DPO will enforce internal compliance and warn authorities about instances of non-compliance.


The DPO is a high-profile and high-responsibility position that will necessitate knowledge of national and European data protection laws and regulations, as well as a thorough understanding of the GDPR. Although the GDPR does not mandate the appointment of a DPO by every controller or processor, you should presume that you will need one until you can establish that you do not.

It would be vital to select the ideal candidate for your company, taking into account its size and industry. As a result, you’ll need to evaluate whether hiring a full-time DPO is the best approach to ensure your company complies with GDPR, or if part-time, shared, or an external consultant is a better alternative.



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