When to Appoint a Data Protection Officer
Expanding your business is one of the most thrilling milestones you’ll ever experience as an entrepreneur. However, increasing your operations likewise increases your scope of responsibilities, not just to your customers- but also to the law. An example of this is how most countries enforce their own versions of data protection policies. For both budding and established organizations, a question remains on how do they start and maintain legal compliance to corporate laws and regulations. More specifically, when to appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO)?
1. When your national laws value data privacy
Different countries have different ways of implementing their data privacy policies. For example, European business organizations are bound to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). However, the GDPR extends to businesses which extends their transactions to EU. In Singapore, it is the Personal Data Protection Act that governs data privacy. Whichever form they take, these laws govern on how private data are protected from exploitation and unfair use.
In the context of business-customer relationship, a data protection regime is necessary to safeguard personal data from misuse and to maintain individuals’ trust in your business organization who manages such data. If your business is located in a country that enforces these types of laws, you should consider to appoint a Data Protection Officer.
2. When you’re expressly required and covered by the law
Generally, all duly registered business organizations who are using, collecting, and disclosing the personal data of private individuals are obliged to adhere to data privacy laws. As provided for under Singapore’s PDPA;
All organisations, including sole proprietorships, are required to designate at least one person, a Data Protection Officer (DPO), to be responsible for ensuring that the organisation complies with the PDPA.– Personal Data Protection Act Singapore
Organisations are also required to ensure that at least one DPO’s business contact information is made available to the public. The business contact information may be a general telephone or email address of the organisation.
From the provisions above, it can be gleaned that the law is silent as to the specific qualifications of an organization before they may be required to appoint a Data Protection Officer. So long as your business falls under the class of “organization”, you are required to designate at least one Data Protection Officer.
3. When you want to be highly competitive in your business
Apart from the aforementioned legal compliance, having a DPO will do your business organization a lot of good. In this era, information is power. And where personal data serves as the foundation of any organization, designating a focal person to ensure the protection of your personal data collection and management can be rewarding.
Appointing a Data Protection Officer increases your chance to remain competitive in the ever-changing global landscape of data protection. Rules and regulations are often subjected to amendments or revisions. Having a DPO solidifies the trust of your customers and enhances your responsiveness to growing public awareness and regard for personal data protection.
Bonus Tip: Outsourcing a DPO is practical and legal
There is no stringent restriction when it comes to the personality of the Data Protection Officer (DPO). Your designated DPO can be based outside of your local area and he/she may not even be an employee of your business organization. Thus, you may outsource this function to a third party, operating under full compliance with national laws.
Outsourcing a DPO adds an extra layer of support to your business. Most of outsourced DPO are composed of a team of experts who are exposed to various industries. They are likely to have collaborative relationship with regulatory authorities, brought about by years of expertise in this line of profession. Lastly, when computed in the long run, you will realize that outsourcing a DPO is more cost-efficient than appointing one of your employees.
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