Professional qualifications of a DPO

Although Article 37(5) does not specify the professional qualities that should be considered when designating the DPO, it is a relevant element that DPOs should have expertise in national and European data protection laws and practices and an in-depth understanding of the GDPR. It is also helpful if the supervisory authorities promote adequate and regular training for DPOs.

The required level of expertise is not strictly defined but it must be commensurate with the sensitivity, complexity and amount of data an organisation processes. For example, where a data processing activity is particularly complex, or where a large amount of sensitive data is involved, the DPO may need a higher level of expertise and support. There is also a difference depending on whether the organisation systematically transfers personal data outside the European Union or whether such transfers are occasional. The DPO should thus be chosen carefully, with due regard to the data protection issues that arise within the organisation.

Knowledge of the business sector and of the organisation of the controller is useful. The DPO should also have sufficient understanding of the processing operations carried out, as well as the information systems, and data security and data protection needs of the controller.

In the case of a public authority or body, the DPO should also have a sound knowledge of the administrative rules and procedures of the organisation.

Ability to fulfil the tasks incumbent on the DPO should be interpreted as both referring to their personal qualities and knowledge, but also to their position within the organisation. Personal qualities should include for instance integrity and high professional ethics; the DPO’s primary concern should be enabling compliance with the GDPR. The DPO plays a key role in fostering a data protection culture within the organisation and helps to implement essential elements of the GDPR, such as the principles of data processing25, data subjects’ rights, data protection by design and by default.

The content herein is provided for your convenience and does not constitute legal advice.
Compliance Technology Solutions B.V. 2018

Russell is the author of this solution article.

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