Punit Bhatia

Do You Need a Data Protection Officer (DPO) or an EU GDPR Representative?

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Data Protection Officer (DPO) and EU GDPR Representative are two important roles in the EU GDPR. To make the right choice, it is essential to understand these two roles, the differences, and when these roles become applicable. This is where this article will help you in being clear on what is meant by each role, who does what, and when you need to appoint who.

What is the role of the DPO?

The primary role of the data protection officer (DPO) is to ensure that the organization processes the personal data of its employees, customers, providers, or other individuals (also known as data subjects) in line with the applicable privacy laws.

What does Data Protection Officer do?

A DPO oversees the implementation of compliance in your organization. It does 5 broad activities and these are:
  • Advises on privacy matters like DPIAs (data protection impact assessments)
  • Monitors your company's data protection compliance
  • Supports the management and staff in performing data protection obligations
  • Trains all staff and management on data protection matters.
  • Helps you to respond in situations like a data breach, privacy inquiries, DSARs, etc.
The GDPR requires the DPO to report directly to the highest management level. This does not access and advice the DPO must be now managed at this level, but they must have direct access to senior management who make decisions about personal data processing.

Do I need a Data Protection Officer (DPO)? Is DPO mandatory?

Under the EU GDPR, a company shall appoint a DPO if:
  • The organization is a government agency or body.
  • The organization's core activities are data processing operations that necessitate regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale.
  • The organizations' core activities include large-scale processing of special categories of data (sensitive data such as personal information on health, religion, race, or sexual orientation) and personal data relating to criminal convictions and offenses.
In all other circumstances, the appointment of a DPO is not mandatory. We recommend you consider assigning a data protection sponsor or point-of-contact in your organization even if the appointment of a DPO is not obligatory for your organization. Doing so means, you have someone responsible for data privacy and protection matters, and your organization has someone to manage challenging situations like a privacy breach or privacy inquiry when such a situation arises.

Who can be your Data Protection Officer (DPO)?

A DPO can be an existing employee or hired from outside the company. The DPO must be independent, a data protection expert, well-resourced, and report to the highest management level.
You can appoint a member of your staff as a DPO if they have the necessary skills and qualifications. You need to ensure that there is no conflict of interest. If you want your existing staff member to be trained and coached to become a DPO, we can help you with that. Just email us at hello@fit4privacy.com.
And, if you need an external DPO on a full or part-time basis, our DPO as a service can be useful for you. Yes, we can even be your part-time Data Protection officer.

Who can be your EU Representative?

As EU representative is a role required by companies that do not have an establishment in the EU, the EU representative role is usually fulfilled by an external company like us.


The appointment of a DPO is not mandatory but it is important that your company has a person, internal or external who can guide your company on matters relating to personal data processing activities. And, if your company does not have an establishment in the EU, an EU representative can be the right option for you. To ensure that you make the right decision, it is essential that you take advice from a professional and mitigate the risk of making an incorrect choice.

About Punit Bhatia

Punit Bhatia is one of the leading privacy experts who helps CXOs and DPOs to identify and manage privacy risks by creating a privacy strategy and implementing it through setting and managing your privacy program and providing scenario based training to your key staff.  In a world that is digital, AI-driven, and has data in the cloud, Punit helps you to create a culture of privacy by establishing a privacy network and training your company's management and staff. 
For more information, please click here.

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Stay connected with the views of leading data privacy professionals and business leaders in today's world on a broad range of topics like setting global privacy programs for private sector companies, role of Data Protection Officer (DPO), EU Representative role, Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIA), Records of Processing Activity (ROPA), security of personal information, data security, personal security, privacy and security overlaps, prevention of personal data breaches, reporting a data breach, securing data transfers, privacy shield invalidation, new Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs), guidelines from European Commission and other bodies like European Data Protection Board (EDPB), implementing regulations and laws (like EU General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR, California's Consumer Privacy Act or CCPA, Canada's Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act or PIPEDA, China's Personal Information Protection Law or PIPL, India's Personal Data Protection Bill or PDPB), different types of solutions, even new laws and legal framework(s) to comply with a privacy law and much more.
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