On September 5, 2018, a first instance Administrative Court in Italy decided that a public company cannot reject an application for the position of data protection officer (“DPO”) on the basis that the applicant is not a certified ISO 27001 Auditor / Lead Auditor (decision available here).

ISO 27001 is an international information security standard. The standard sets out conditions that an individual must meet to become a certified ISO 27001 Auditor / Lead Auditor, such as attending dedicated courses and passing an exam.

The court noted the DPO requirements set out the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), in particular that the “data protection officer shall be designated on the basis of professional qualities and, in particular, expert knowledge of data protection law and practices and the ability to fulfill [its] tasks” (Article 37(5) GDPR).

The court held that an ISO 27001 Auditor / Lead Auditor certification “does not (or does not fully) capture the specific qualities inherent to the task [of DPO], whose main function is not (…) to increase the levels of efficiency and security in the information management, but rather, the ability to safeguard the fundamental right of the individual to the protection of personal data (…)”.  The lack of this certification does not mean that an applicant cannot adequately fulfill the role of a DPO.

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Photo of Anna Oberschelp de Meneses Anna Oberschelp de Meneses

Anna Sophia Oberschelp de Meneses is an associate in the Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice Group.  Anna is a qualified Portuguese lawyer, but is both a native Portuguese and German speaker.  Anna advises companies on European data protection law and helps clients coordinate…

Anna Sophia Oberschelp de Meneses is an associate in the Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice Group.  Anna is a qualified Portuguese lawyer, but is both a native Portuguese and German speaker.  Anna advises companies on European data protection law and helps clients coordinate international data protection law projects.  She has obtained a certificate for “corporate data protection officer” by the German Association for Data Protection and Data Security (“Gesellschaft für Datenschutz und Datensicherheit e.V.”). She is also Certified Information Privacy Professional Europe (CIPPE/EU) by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).  Anna also advises companies in the field of EU consumer law and has been closely tracking the developments in this area.  Her extensive language skills allow her to monitor developments and help clients tackle EU Data Privacy, Cybersecurity and Consumer Law issues in various EU and ROW jurisdictions.

Photo of Kristof Van Quathem Kristof Van Quathem

Kristof Van Quathem advises clients on information technology matters and policy, with a focus on data protection, cybercrime and various EU data-related initiatives, such as the Data Act, the AI Act and EHDS.

Kristof has been specializing in this area for over twenty…

Kristof Van Quathem advises clients on information technology matters and policy, with a focus on data protection, cybercrime and various EU data-related initiatives, such as the Data Act, the AI Act and EHDS.

Kristof has been specializing in this area for over twenty years and developed particular experience in the life science and information technology sectors. He counsels clients on government affairs strategies concerning EU lawmaking and their compliance with applicable regulatory frameworks, and has represented clients in non-contentious and contentious matters before data protection authorities, national courts and the Court of the Justice of the EU.

Kristof is admitted to practice in Belgium.