Data protection officers are future CEOs, says DPO group head

By Espie Angelica A. de Leon

The National Association of Data Protection Officers (DPOs) of the Philippines or NADPOP believes that DPOs are mini chief executive officers (CEOs) of their respective organizations and are, in fact, well-positioned to become the next CEOs.

NADPOP founding president Sam Jacoba

“Data protection officers will be future CEOs because they are managing the most valuable resource of the organization which is data,” said Sam Jacoba, tech entrepreneur and NADPOP’s founding president.

Jacoba, who was also the founding president of the tech journalists group Cyberpress Philippines, was speaking at NADPOP’s first media update for the fourth quarter of 2018 held in November 21 at Romulo Café in Makati City.

“The DPO works across all the departments,” he stressed. Therefore it helps if his position is CEO level, otherwise, departments will not be compelled to listen to him, thus compromising their data privacy, he said.

For the DPO to effectively lead his organization, he should therefore be technically competent, a people manager, process manager, and organizationally competent.

Echoing what other tech experts and insiders have been repeatedly saying, the former tech journalist stated that data is the new oil. Therefore, companies in the Philippines should allot a budget for a DPO, appoint one, and train him.

NADPOP aims to strengthen the privacy practice and empower the country’s DPOs through nationwide conferences, training, and certification among others. One of its training courses is the two-day Data Privacy Canvas which trains DPOs to think like CEOs.

According to Jacoba, the need to appoint or hire DPOs is complemented by positive developments in the local technology sector. Several startups are rolling out solutions for data privacy and cybersecurity, Asian Institute of Management is now offering a data science course, and the Philippines has earned a seat in the five-member executive committee of the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners, among others.

This general scenario is replicated overseas. “There’s a global demand for world-class DPOs. Europe has passed their own privacy law this year and because of that law being passed, Europe now needs 40,000 DPOs,” said Jacoba.

This need is further bolstered by the latest incidences of data breach worldwide including those involving Facebook, Cathay Pacific, and Singapore’s SingHealth where medical information of some 1.5 million patients were stolen. Among them was the country’s prime minister himself, Lee Hsien Long.

Locally, data privacy concerns by some contestants of the recent Miss Earth pageant held in Manila make up some of the latest reports. According to security firm Kaspersky Lab, the Philippines placed 10th in the list of most attacked nations in the world when it comes to online infections.

Launched nearly a year ago, NADPOP now has more than 200 members composed of data privacy practitioners, security advocates and technology professionals. More than 60% of them are certified either by TUV/CIPM. By training and enabling Filipino DPOs, the association hopes to make the Philippines a Global Center of Excellence for Data Privacy.

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