TikTok starts hosting European user data in Ireland

TikTok starts hosting European user data in Ireland

“Our first data center in Dublin, Ireland is now operational and the migration of European user data to this center has already begun, while our other two centers in Norway and Ireland are under construction,” the subsidiary of Chinese giant ByteDance said in a press release.

This transfer should continue until the end of 2024, after which the three data centers will be up and running. This project, called Clover and announced in March, represents an annual investment of 1.2 billion euros for TikTok.

It has also partnered with UK cybersecurity firm NCC Group, which is responsible for conducting “an independent audit” of data protections implemented, “monitoring data flows” and “reporting any incidents”.

Modeled after the measures imposed on the social network in the United States, these provisions are designed to prevent ByteDance employees in China from accessing Europeans’ “protected data,” TikTok officials explained on a conference call with reporters.

This protected data includes users’ real names, their e-mail address, their telephone number or the IP address of their terminals, as well as personal data within the meaning of European regulations.

On the other hand, certain aggregated data, public or necessary for network interoperability, will continue to circulate and be hosted outside the continent.

When asked, TikTok declined to comment on the share of data already being transferred from current data centers in the United States and Singapore. The social network had already outlined a plan in August 2020 to store the data of European users locally, which had not yet seen the light of day.

Threat of suspension

“I am following the implementation of this commitment very closely, especially during my meetings with the leaders of TikTok. This is just the beginning. We remain vigilant and will not give up our efforts,” said France’s delegated minister for digital affairs on Tuesday. , Jean-Noël Barrot, on the social network X (ex-Twitter).

TikTok now has 150 million users in the United States and 134 million in the European Economic Area. The company claims full legal separation from its entities in China and has always strongly denied sharing data with Chinese authorities.

But parent company ByteDance had to admit in December 2022 that employees had access to the data of two American journalists during an internal investigation into data breaches.

Since then, countries such as Australia, Belgium and Canada, as well as the European Commission, have banned the entertainment app from their civil servants’ work phones. The US state of Montana has announced a total ban on the app, although that decision is open to appeal.

In July, a Senate investigative committee in France threatened to suspend the application if it did not take steps to clarify its ties with Chinese authorities and introduce “effective” moderation before January 1, 2024.

TikTok has since announced tools for investigators and regulators, a non-personalized news feed, the end of personalized ads for minors, and a new option to report content. The French branch has also decided to replace Sino-Canadian President Zhao Tian with its director of global operations, American Adam Presser.

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