How to Become Competent in Data Protection

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically sped up the digitisation process and changed the landscape of the economy in unprecedented ways. To survive, many businesses have adopted digital solutions and online transactions. This is also where the help of a Data Protection Officer (DPO) can come in handy.

The Task of Data Protection Officers

The acronym G-A-P-S-R summarises the tasks of Data Protection Officers:


The primary task of a Data Protection Officer is to help the organisation govern how personal data is used, disclosed, collected, and stored within the organisation based on the requirements of the Personal Data Protection Act and as well as other relevant data protection laws.

The responsibilities of the DPO from an operational perspective include:


The DPO assesses the risks related to the processing of personal data. This includes carrying out a data protection impact assessment (DPIA).


To protect the organisation, the Data Protection Officer creates a Data Protection Management Programme (DPMP) against identified risks. This can include implementing processes and policies for the handling of personal data.


A Data Protection Officer sustains the above compliance efforts by communicating personal data protection policies to the stakeholders. This includes training, performing audits, and ensuring monitoring of tasks is ongoing.


It is also the responsibility of the Data Protection Officer to manage and respond to personal data protection complaints and queries as well as liaising with data protection regulators (both international and local) on data protection matters especially in the event of a data protection breach.

How do DPOs Can Become Competent

Aside from taking a Data Protection Officer Course, there are many ways Data Protection Officers, management, and staff can accelerate their learning journey so they can perform their jobs better. For instance:

Exploring Micro Accreditation for Employees

While Data Protection Officers can take a Data Protection Officer Course, other employees, especially those that process personal data as part of their jobs might not be able to commit attention and time to in-depth training. That said, conducting topic-centric training sessions like lunch and learn, e-learning, and town hall training sessions are recommended.

Attending Specialised Training for Management and Managers

Management and staff involved in data protection need to know recent data protection trends if they want to perform their jobs well. To keep up and comply with data protection laws, they can attend specialised classes conducted by professionals with operational experience.

Attending International Forums By Experienced Professionals and Experts

Data protection laws can differ across jurisdictions. However, many controls tend to be common. Networks and organisations like the IAPP (International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) and Data Protection Excellence Network (DPEX Network) conduct forums where experts share their knowledge and expertise with other data protection practitioners.

Joining DPO Support Groups on Social Media

Those who want to get more regular updates should subscribe to data protection-related newsletters. Joining DPO support groups on social media is also a good idea. 


It is expected that there will be constant challenges in the data protection sphere especially with technology constantly evolving. Fortunately, as long as you keep yourself updated with the latest in the data protection space by taking relevant courses and attending training sessions, you can make your journey a lot easier.