GDPR in focus: What will the role of a Data Protection Officer entail?

The main responsibilities of the Data Protection Officer are to:

  • Inform and advise on GDPR matters relating to the organisation’s activities
  • Monitor compliance with the GDPR
  • Consider and implement Data Privacy Impact Assessments (DPIA)
  • Liaise with the Supervisory Authority

Ultimately, the DPO needs to understand the GDPR requirements, act as a knowledge source for the rest of the organisation, and be mindful of the risks surrounding ‘personal data’ processing.


Ensuring compliance, as well as providing the organisation with well-informed advice surrounding data privacy and the GDPR, are key to the role of the DPO. For this reason, the position cannot be undertaken by anyone who has direct control or influence over delivery, or is placed within a functional department.

Requirements of the role

The DPO must:

  • Have clear and direct access to the most senior management within the organisation
  • Be accessible by ‘data subjects’ if there is a complaint or Data Subject Access Request(DSAR)
  • Be bound by confidentiality
  • Have no conflict of interest arising from other duties
  • Have a clear understanding of the GDPR
  • Be able to articulate ‘Privacy by Design and by Default’ practices to all departments
  • Possess risk assessment and risk management skills
  • Ensure all necessary ‘data subject’ documentation and processes are in place.


If the responsibilities of the DPO are carried out properly within a business, then achieving and maintaining compliance with the GDPR will be reasonably straightforward. Fundamentally, the role works in the interests of the organisation, by reducing the chances of any substantial financial penalties from the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).

It’s important to note that the DPO role does not need to be assigned to a full-time employee of the organisation, but they must be independent of any of the processing/controlling activities. If you need help with this, contact us to find out about the Virtual DPO service we offer.

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