Does your business need a "Data Protection Officer?"

Anticipated new EU regulation may mean you do, notes consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers.

New data-privacy regulation for the European Union expected to gain approval as early as October of this year would break new ground by requiring businesses selling goods and services to European citizens to appoint a so-called "Data Protection Officer" to be in compliance with the new law.

If passed and implemented as expected in the EU, there would be uniform data-privacy regulation for EU countries with a probable timeframe of 2016 to take effect in full, points out Carolyn Holcomb, partner and leader in the risk assurance data protection and privacy practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

One of the notable aspects of the drafted regulation is that it calls for businesses, regardless of whether they are EU-based or not, to appoint a so-called "Data Protection Officer" (DPO) if they sell goods and services or regularly monitor Europeans, or process data on them at certain levels.

+More on Network World: One EU data protection authority to rule them all, under new proposal |Security Primer: How malware is classified+

The EU-envisioned DPO is supposed to be an expert in data-privacy law and must be given a highly independent position in the business reporting to the top level of management. Under the draft of the law, the DPO is envisioned as a four-year appointment (see graphic, below) who cannot be easily dismissed. There will be a lot of challenges for companies around this DPO question, says Holcomb, if only because there are likely not enough qualified DPOs available to meet what may be an upcoming surge in demand for them.

"If you have European operations or customers, you are really thinking about it," she notes. Under the current drafted regulation, if a business processes data related to about 5,000 or more "data-subject" individuals in some way--it's emphasized this number could change over the course of the next few months--the business is supposed to appoint a DPO to assure compliance with the new law.

"This is the first time we've seen a mandate related to the concept of the DPO," says Jay Cline, principal in PwC's data protection and privacy practice. Countries such as Germany have sought to encourage the DPO idea through some granted regulatory advantages, but now there's the prospect that the DPO will be a requirement in terms of the anticipated new EU regulation, which is expected to supersede individual country data-privacy laws in place now.

Experts in data-privacy regulations are not in great supply though there is rising demand. According to PwC's estimate, slightly more than half of the Fortune 100 companies today appear to have a so-called "Chief Privacy Officer."

One of the most important professional credentials the CPO might have is known as the "Certified Information Privacy Professional" designation granted by the International Association of Privacy Professionals which offers global types of data-privacy accreditations. The CPO function, most often found in the largest companies, might be roughly analogues to what would be expected of an EU-styled DPO in assuring the business complies with relevant data-protection practices and data-breach laws.

But in the U.S., the CPO role varies considerably, given to the IT or legal department, Holcomb points out. The EU-styled DPO, on the other hand, is supposed to be much like an independent watchdog, reporting to the highest level of management, who basically cannot be dismissed for the four-year appointment term at the company. Holcomb said companies will be assessing whether their CPO can become the designated DPO, or whether there needs to be a separate DPO for European business operations if they don't already have one.

The penalties for failure to comply with the anticipated regulations will be high. As currently written, the draft regulation carries the prospect of hefty fines against the business, a possible "5% of worldwide annual turnover or 100 million Euros, whichever is greater," according to a recent PwC report on the topic.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags network securityeuropean unionsecurityPwCprivacyPricewaterhouseCoopers

More about EUPricewaterhouseCoopers

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Ellen Messmer

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place