Monday 23 July 2018

Data protection officers are in demand as EU deadline looms

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

Salvador Rodriguez and Ellie Donnelly

They lack the cachet of entrepreneurs, or rock star tech developers, but data protection officers are suddenly the hottest properties in technology.

When Jen Brown got her first certification for information privacy in 2006, few companies were looking for people qualified to manage the legal and ethical issues related to handling customer data.

But now companies across the globe are scrambling to comply with a European law that represents the biggest shake-up of personal data privacy rules since the birth of the internet. Jen Brown's inbox is being besieged by recruiters.

In Ireland there were 98 vacancies listed on jobs website for data protection officers (DPOs) yesterday, including with global technology giants Twitter, Microsoft, AirBnB and Facebook as well as domestic firms and the public sector.

"I got into security before anyone cared about it, and I had a hard time finding a job," said the 46-year-old, who is the data protection officer (DPO) of analytics startup Sumo Logic in Redwood City near San Francisco.

"Suddenly, people are sitting up and taking notice."

Ms Brown is among a hitherto rare breed of workers becoming sought-after in the global tech industry ahead of the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which goes into effect in May.

The law is intended to give European citizens more control over their online information and applies to all firms that do business with Europeans. It requires that all companies whose core activities include substantial monitoring or processing of personal data hire a DPO.

And finding DPOs is not easy.

More than 28,000 will be needed in Europe and US and as many as 75,000 around the globe as a result of GDPR, the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) estimates. The need for DPOs is expected to be particularly high in any data-rich industries, such as technology, but demand is likely to percolate through the economy. (Reuters)

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