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A Qualitative Analysis of GDPR-related Issues and Compliance Practices in German Public Offices

Stefan Mill

Information on the Thesis

Type of Final Thesis: Master
Supervisor: Ali SunyaevTobias Dehling
Research Group: Critical Information Infrastructures

Archive Number: 4.375
Status of Thesis: Completed
Date of start: 2018-10-01
Date of submission: 2019-03-31

Further Information
Data protection is one of the central topics of our society as the digitalization of our daily lives proceeds. However, discussions about data protection in theory and practice often only refer to the technological giants and social networks of our time. The public sector, its issues and practices with regard to data protection is widely ignored. Even the research community is rather restrained with respect to this specific field. Even with the considerable peak of interest in May 2018, caused by the GDPR, the data protection within the public sector, again, did not benefit.

This master thesis focuses on this lack in research. Using an exploratory approach, interviews with data protection officers of municipal public offices has been conducted in the months following the introduction of the GDPR. The sample comprises a total of 18 data sets, collected from cities from of all sizes all states of Germany. Based on this study, the thesis summarizes the main statements, issues and solution approaches with regard to general data protection and the implementation of the GDPR in four dimensions: organization, culture, context, and legislation. Using the central insights of every dimension, it discusses the main relations of themes as well as the relevance of personnel resources and the data protection practices in the past. The thesis provides suggestions for practitioners and works out potential areas for further research for fellow scientists.