Customer data of European TikTok users is no longer stored in Singapore and the US but in Europe. The video platform has built three new European data centres for this purpose. The first data centre is located in the Irish capital, Dublin, and is now operational. The two other data centres will be located in Norway and Ireland and are currently being built.
TikTok reports this in a press statement.
TikTok is under fire due to security and privacy risks
TikTok is a Chinese company owned by ByteDance. Privacy experts have been saying for some time that this poses security and privacy risks. In China, there is legislation that may require Chinese companies and organizations to share customer data with the government or the People’s Liberation Army. Private data and other confidential information can, therefore, end up in the wrong hands.
Due to these potential risks, several Western countries have implemented TikTok bans. Such a ban now applies in Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, among others. Civil servants working for the European Commission are no longer allowed to install the app on their work equipment. Employees of the municipality of Amsterdam, the municipality of The Hague, the province of Groningen and the Tax Authorities were instructed earlier this year to remove the app from their work phones.
No TikTok ban in the Netherlands
“TikTok poses a potential security risk, and we must avoid that danger. It is unclear what the Chinese company does with users’ personal data. It is also unclear what exactly the company monitors and stores. I therefore believe that civil servants should not have TikTok on mobile work devices. In this way, we prevent any uncontrolled leakage of information,” said Hind Dekker-Abdulaziz (D66) during a committee debate on the use of algorithms and data ethics within the central government.
The government is opposed to a complete ban on TikTok. Outgoing State Secretary for Digitalization Alexandra van Huffelen sees more in ‘managed devices’. Only applications that have been approved in advance can and may be installed on work equipment.
First steps of Project Clover are a fact
TikTok has strongly denied that it has ties to the Chinese government or military or that it spies for the Chinese Communist Party. Yet the company is not deaf to the criticism. The video platform promised in March 2023 to store data from European users in the EU.
The first steps of this operation – also called Project Clover – have now been taken. The data centre in Dublin is now active, and the migration of customer data from European users to this centre has started. Two other data centres are currently under construction. It is still being determined when the construction work will be completed.
NCC Group monitors the cybersecurity of data storage
TikTok doesn’t stop there. To gain the trust of European users and policymakers, the company calls on NCC Group. This is an independent, external European cybersecurity company that will supervise information security and monitor the data flows of the video platform. This is done in a protected environment to which only authorized employees have access.
“We are proud that TikTok has recognized NCC’s experience and expertise in cybersecurity and selected us as the independent and third-party security provider for this project. Our objective control, monitoring and assurance means that TikTok users in Europe and the UK can have confidence in the improved data security standards that TikTok sets. These standards go far beyond European legal requirements,” said Stephen Bailey, Global Director of Privacy at NCC Group.
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