How to Become a Chief Privacy Officer

chief privacy officers

Data is without a doubt the most important asset of the twenty-first century. It is both the driving force behind modern computing and the end result of today’s computing systems. By the end of 2020, it is projected that 200 billion devices will be producing data. Companies who use this data to offer services and sell their goods can consume a large portion of it.

“Today, more than 5 billion users engage with data every day—by 2025, that figure will be 6 billion, or 75 percent of the world’s population,” writes Seagate on its website. Every 18 seconds, each connected individual will have at least one data interaction in 2025. Many of these encounters are the result of the billions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices that are projected to generate over 90ZB of data by 2025.”

But, who owns this information? What if this data contains personal information about a person? Is it owned by the person or by the corporation that bought or produced it?

The position of chief privacy officer was created in response to the need to address these complex questions and understand legal and regulatory criteria related to privacy (CPO)

There are certain business skills that will be needed, just as there are for any corporate executive role. Candidates for CPO positions should work on developing the skills mentioned below.

    • To achieve goals, collaboration, teamwork, and problem-solving are needed.
    • Communication and listening skills Expertise in delivering outstanding customer service
      Exceptional writing abilities
    • Extensive experience with applicable laws and requirements for the security of information and privacy Ability to skillfully negotiate and recognize appropriate compromises High degree of honesty and trust

What is a chief privacy officer?

In an ever-increasing number of global organizations, the CPO is a senior-level executive. The CPO’s primary duty is to handle the risk associated with information privacy laws and regulations. This position is ostensibly established in an organization to serve as a central authority for making privacy decisions and protecting a company’s customers’ interests.

Any company that collects and stores consumer data should have a central location where awareness about how the data is handled and policies for collecting and managing online and offline data are developed. Otherwise, the company risks introducing deviations that jeopardize the company’s and customers’ protection. Weak data security can lead to brand damage and legal penalties, among other things.

Without the title of CPO, some organizations appoint someone to manage privacy on an ad hoc basis. However, giving a CPO the appearance of authority is critical because they will eventually have to make tough decisions that impact the entire organization. In addition, formalizing the function sends the message that privacy is a top priority.

Chief privacy officer requirements, skills, and experience

The qualifications, expertise, and experience that a business seeking a CPO seeks can vary to some extent depending on the industry. A healthcare company can require industry-specific skills and knowledge. A financial or retail company, for example, will seek out someone who is well-versed in these markets. In most cases, however, a candidate’s knowledge of data privacy laws and regulations would be more relevant in the selection process.

A list of popular criteria for CPO candidates is as follows:

A bachelor’s degree in a field relevant to the company’s core business is required.
Knowledge and experience with state and federal data privacy laws, such as, but not limited to:

    • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
    • California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)
    • New York Consumer Privacy Act (NYPA)
    • Union européenne (EU) Regulation on Personal Data Protection (GDPR) (GDPR)
    • Organization, facilitation, written and oral communication, and presentation skills
    • Legal, operational, and or financial skills

What do chief privacy officers do?

Organizations can use names like Privacy Officer, Privacy Leader, and Privacy Counsel in place of the CPO title. Other companies can transfer the CPO’s duties and responsibilities to another C-suite executive, such as the Chief Legal Officer.

However, certain titles with similar-sounding names can have somewhat different roles. The data protection officer (DPO), for example, is a similar title that the European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) specifically mandates (GDPR). The DPO is a lower-level employee than the CPO who ensures that a company follows the laws protecting personal data.

A chief technology officer (CTO) develops a company’s information management policies. The CPO would then collaborate with the CTO to develop a privacy program that was tailored to those strategies.

Chief Privacy Officer Job Description

A typical example of a CPO job description can be found below. The technical specifications can differ depending on the company’s industry. This sample may be used to compare a candidate’s current skills and abilities to those that might be needed for a CPO position.

Chief executive officer, (chief) enforcement officer, senior executive (chief operating officer, CIO), (senior) in-house counsel, or practice manager are examples of immediate supervisors.

The CPO’s primary responsibility is to oversee all ongoing activities related to the creation, implementation, and maintenance of the organization’s privacy policies in accordance with federal and state laws.

General Purpose: The privacy officer is in charge of the organization’s privacy program, which includes but is not limited to daily operations, policy and procedure creation, implementation, and maintenance. They are in charge of software enforcement, incident and violation investigation and recording, and consumer rights protection. In all cases, federal and state regulations must be followed.

Responsibilities include:

    • Develops, maintains, and implements a strategic and comprehensive privacy program that identifies, develops, maintains, and implements policies and processes that allow clear, efficient privacy practices that mitigate risk and ensure the confidentiality of protected information, whether paper or electronic, across all media types. Maintains the most up-to-date privacy forms, policies, protocols, and procedures.
    • Establishes governance for the privacy program in collaboration with senior management, security, and the corporate compliance officer.
    • Assumes a leading position in terms of privacy enforcement.
    • Act as a liaison to the information systems department and collaborate with the information security officer to ensure consistency between security and privacy enforcement initiatives, including policies, procedures, and investigations.
    • Establishes an ongoing procedure with the information protection officer to monitor, investigate, and report any unauthorized access or disclosure of protected information. Keep an eye on trends of unauthorized access to and/or disclosure of protected data.
      Performs or supervises the initial and periodic assessment/analysis, prevention, and remediation of information privacy risks.
    • Develops, delivers, and monitors initial and ongoing workplace privacy training.
      Where required, collaborates with the information management director and other relevant agency units to monitor consumer rights to inspect, update, and limit access to protected information.
    • Under the relevant State violation rules and requirements, manages the appropriate breach determination and notification processes.
    • Establishes and manages a procedure for investigating and responding to concerns about privacy and protection.
    • Maintains up-to-date knowledge of relevant federal and state privacy regulations, as well as accreditation requirements.
    • Works with the organization’s management, legal counsel, and other related parties to represent the organization’s data and interests to external parties (state or local government bodies) that are considering enacting or amending privacy legislation, policy, or standards.
    • Serves as the organization’s information protection resource for the release of information and all departments for all privacy-related issues.

Certificates available for chief privacy officers

Several technical certifications are directly related to a CPO’s qualification. There are some of them:

    • Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) with regional specializations like the US, Canada, Europe, and Asia
    • Certified Information Privacy Manager (CIPM)
    • Certified Information Privacy Technologist (CIPT)
    • Certified in Healthcare Privacy and Security (CHPS)
    • Certified in Healthcare Privacy Compliance (CHPC)
    • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Chief privacy officers’ prospects

Since the dawn of the data-as-a-commodity era, concern about privacy has grown slowly, but in the last two years, it has grown exponentially. CPOs are in high demand in the United States, thanks to the introduction of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in 2018.

The emergence of the CPO illustrates the growing need for leadership in the data-driven digital business world, as well as the importance of championing individuals’ rights to personal data access.

How much do chief privacy officers make?

The salary data reflects the complexity of the CPO job and the difficulty in finding individuals with the right combination of skills, education, and experience. “Chief privacy officers maintain an impressive $200,000 median salary in 2019 — $212,000 for those in the United States,” according to the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).

CPOs and privacy executives, on average, earn the highest wages of all privacy practitioners and have seen the most salary raises since 2017.”

Jennifer Thomas
Jennifer Thomas is the Co-founder and Chief Business Development Officer at Cybers Guards. Prior to that, She was responsible for leading its Cyber Security Practice and Cyber Security Operations Center, which provided managed security services.