After this day, after 5 years of GDPR, the role of the DPO is still a challenge in terms of content, but above all on a human level. As DPOs, we are the ones who are really in the field by translating theory into practice and making general notions concrete. As true field workers, we covered and still cover quite some miles through fields that are sometimes too muddy or too dry… Our job is quite a sizeable one: we are teachers, risk analysts, alarm bells, advisors, auditors and mediators at the same time. Our job is not at all a small one and, unfortunately, there is still too much disregard for it.

The questionnaire we launched on the occasion of this DPO Day in March showed that almost 15% of DPOs are confronted with unacceptable behavior while performing their duties and that no fewer than 46% of DPOs are influenced in the performance of their job. 33% of DPOs indicate that it is difficult for them to let go of their job. More than half of DPOs say they feel isolated in their role. On the other hand, the majority of DPOs experience their role as productive and they mainly operate in a positive working atmosphere. DPOs also tend to feel happier in their jobs if they are affiliated with a network or have received data protection training.

When I look back on 5 years of GDPR myself, I have not only learned a lot about data protection, but also about the social-emotional and psychological aspect of performing my role as a DPO. In my opinion, there is not enough talk about those aspects. As a DPO, you can only go as fast – or as slow – as the controller or processor will allow you. Not all plants grow at the same speed… Raising awareness will remain the basis, and a great deal of eagerness to learn will get you quite far.

But, with dialogue, cooperation, and mutual support of the various actors, also present at this DPO Day, we can now really face not only a better and wider implementation of the data protection regulations, but also the new, especially digital, evolutions that challenge the law on data protection and other human rights.

Today’s intention was to organize a day for and by DPOs. I am very grateful that the organizers of dpo pro, Data Protection Institute, ISACA and VBO have pulled me in to help develop the questionnaire and shape this day. It was a day on which we not only demonstrated the importance of our role as DPO, but also brought together different actors.

Thank you for being here! I hope it was educational for you and that we were able to encourage the DPOs among you, so that the fields ahead of you will be less rocky in the next 5 years, but that we can sow more seeds to continue the growth and bloom of this job, from which we will all be able to reap!

Jolien Ghyselinck

DPO for various grant-endowed institutions of the Chamber, including the Data Protection Authority


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