The GDPR explicitly provides that a Data Protection Officer can be an external consultant. The advantage to this is that he is able to act independently and with the necessary detachment in respect of your company.

Dismissal of the DPO

Moreover, the GDPR states that the DPO may not receive any instructions from the company in the performance of his duties, and he may not be dismissed or subjected to other disciplinary action due to the performance of his duties as a DPO. This has major implications if an internal employee is appointed as DPO at a company. For example, this would be difficult to combine with his position, since employees come under their employer’s authority by definition.

Independence of the DPO

Moreover, if an internal employee is appointed as DPO, certain structures will have to be adjusted in order to confer sufficient power and independence on him. The organisation will also have to train the new DPO. This will be far more the case for an external DPO, who will be able to fall back on his own organisation in that respect.

Appointing an organisation as DPO

In addition, the external consultant may be an organisation, which means that it can deploy various persons to flesh out the position of DPO with their combined expertise. In that case, the division of tasks must be made absolutely clear and one central contact person must be appointed.

Confidential function of the DPO

Persons whose data is processed have more confidence in an external DPO organisation than in a person actually employed at the company in question.


Employers will often have to invest in training courses, software packages and organisation in order to enable their internal DPO to perform his duties properly. In this respect, there is a genuine risk of an internal DPO being induced to leave his employment, certainly since this new position will be very much in demand.

Non-linear position

The position of DPO is a non-linear position which would have to be taken on additionally by a certain employee. It is therefore a non-linear position in itself which provides the relevant employee with very few opportunities to further their career.

This post is also available in: Dutch

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