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The Importance and Role of a Data Protection Officer (DPO) for GDPR Compliance

Read Time: 3 minutes

The General Data Protection Regulation — better known as GDPR — calls for the appointment of a Data Protection Officer (DPO) as one of the requirements for full compliance. Of course, this has left many companies wondering whether they’re subject to GDPR regulations and whether it’s necessary to hire someone to fulfill the Data Protection Officer role. The answer will vary depending upon a few factors such as company size, target audience and the nature of your business.

What is GDPR and Who’s Subject to This Regulation?

To understand the GDPR Data Protection Officer’s role, it’s vital that you have a firm understanding of GDPR as a whole.

GDPR was enacted on May 28, 2018 and the regulation impacts any company or organization that collects and stores personal data from citizens of the European Union (EU). Most companies have been compelled to address GDPR compliance due to the hefty fines that can be imposed: up to 4 million Euros or 4% of a company’s global annual turnover — whichever figure is larger.

GDPR is designed to protect users and their personal data. Businesses must be compliant when collecting and storing data related to an identifiable person. If the data could theoretically be used — alone or in conjunction with other information — to identify a specific person, it’s considered “personal data” and is therefore protected by GDPR.

GDPR-defined examples of personal data include:

  • A person’s full name (real or pseudonyms);
  • An identification number;
  • A party’s occupation;
  • A person’s address; and
  • Physical characteristics (including written descriptions and photos).

It’s important to understand that GDPR still applies to data that is de-identified through the use of pseudonyms or encryption. If the data can be unencrypted and used to identify a specific individual, it’s subject to GDPR protections.

What is the Data Protection Officer Role?

GDPR legislation requires all companies or organizations that collect and store personal data of EU citizens to appoint a Data Protection Officer. The DPO’s primary mission is to ensure that the company maintains GDPR compliance, so this individual would need to evaluate the company’s operations, data collecting activities and data storage strategy.

Additionally, the Data Protection Officer is tasked with handling any requests to “forget” an individual’s personal data. GDPR allows for “the right to be forgotten,” meaning that an EU citizen can request to have their personal data fully erased and “forgotten” from a company’s data stores. The Data Protection Officer’s role is to verify that the appropriate data is purged and to provide the individual with confirmation that their data has been “forgotten.”

A Data Protection Officer would also have a role in the case that a company is investigated for GDPR compliance. The DPO would provide GDPR enforcement officers with information about data collection and data storage techniques, along with evidence of compliance.

Do I Need to Hire a DPO to Handle GDPR Compliance?

The decision to hire a Data Protection Officer for GDPR compliance will vary depending upon the company / organization size and the volume of EU citizens’ data that is collected / stored. A large corporation that deals in large amounts of personal data at the core of their business operations would be wise to hire one or more individuals to serve as a GDPR Data Protection Officer. Meanwhile, a smaller company that collects a very minimal amount of personal data may choose to appoint an existing team member to serve as DPO.

You’ll also need to consider GDPR when upgrading or expanding your cloud data platform, a data lake or when developing a new mobile app or custom enterprise software platform. If an EU citizen could potentially submit personal data to your business or organization, then you’ll need to be sure that you’re considering GDPR requirements during the development process.

In fact, the team at 7T is very experienced in developing GDPR-compliant software, mobile apps and data platforms. We’ve even written a GDPR ebook on the topic, exploring the regulation and how it affects companies.

As a top Dallas custom software development company, 7T strives to solve problems and boost ROI through digital transformation. Our innovative team integrates cutting-edge solutions into virtually every development project, whether it’s mobile app development, custom software projects such as CRM platforms and ERP development, or Snowflake data solutions, we’re ready to deliver collaborative, multi-phased software development services to clients in all business sectors.

7T has offices in Dallas, Houston, Chicago, and Austin, but our clientele spans far beyond Texas and the midwest. If you’re ready to harness the power of a GDPR-compliant mobile app, custom enterprise software platform and today’s most innovative technologies, contact 7T. We invite you to call our Dallas area offices at 214-299-5100.

Steve Parta

Steve Parta is a Director of Business Development at 7T. He has over ten years of experience in sales and management. His specialty is working with 7T's data lake creation and data governance platform, Sertics, as well as its core business of Digital Transformation through custom software development.

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