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Developing Data Protection Skill Sets

Many companies nowadays still consider the role of a data protection officer (DPO) as relatively new. The reporting structure, responsibility, and role of a data protection officer are primarily defined by the European Union’s (EU) General Data protection Regulation or GDPR.

The requirements set by the GDPR for the creation of a DPO within certain companies created the market demand for individuals with the required skill sets and experience. Those who want to improve their data protection qualifications and credibility can now take a data protection officer course.

A data protection officer course can also help DPOs become better equipped to handle the data protection needs of the organisation and company and ensure compliance. 

Data Protection Officer in a Nutshell

In essence, the data protection officer is the steward of data privacy strategy and data protection implementation in organisations. They are also tasked to establish a culture of data protection throughout the entire organisation. DPOs will also ensure enterprise-wise compliance.

In many countries, a data protection officer is mandatory for public authorities and organisations. The GDPR indicates that what compels the need for a DPO is not the organisation but rather the scope and size of data handling.

The DPO will report directly to the highest management level. They also have access to senior managers that make decisions related to personal data processing. This set up can help facilitate the mandate of the data protection officer to advise senior management on such matters. 

Data Protection Officer Experience and Skills

The candidate for the position of DPO is required to display a robust understanding of the GDPR. However, most employers will use a DPO’s understanding of data privacy requirements to measure position suitability. 

Also, while technical skills are not deemed a main requirement, it’s crucial for a DPO to have practical experience when it comes to cybersecurity.

Ideally, candidates should have ample experience dealing with real security incidents so they can provide beneficial guidance on countermeasures, risk assessments, and data protection impact assessments. 

What DPOs Do

Data protection officers work on ensuring the organisation applies the laws that protect personal data accordingly. Data protection officers also have the responsibility to educate companies and employees about training the staff and the compliance required.

DPOs also act as the point of contact between organisations and supervisory authorities  (SAs) that oversee activities related to data. DPOs also function as the organisation’s privacy and data protection evangelists. Success in the position will require individuals to be strong-willed and able to find common ground and negotiate effectively with leaders.

DPO candidates must be able to demonstrate their ability to learn fast. The role will also require that one is able to quickly grasp company policies and practices that relate to the dissemination and consumption of personally identifiable data or PII. 

It is also considered ideal if the DPO candidate has a proven track record in information security, privacy advocacy, data protection, and regulatory compliance. Other responsibilities of data protection officers include:

  • Engaging in the negotiating, reviewing, and drafting of any commercial agreement that contains protected information.
  • Providing in-house legal advice on privacy by design, data-sharing, transfer of data and privacy.
  • Drafting of data protection-related documentation including due diligence of contract for either the CCPA or GDPR.
  • Providing support and guidance on new data tracking requirements and compliance reporting.
  • Updating the internal codes of conduct and familiarity with all the applicable privacy laws.