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TikTok opens Irish data centre as part of its 'Project Clover' charm offensive

TikTok says operations have started at the first of its three European data centers
TikTok says operations have started at the first of its three European data centers Copyright Michael Dwyer/AP
Copyright Michael Dwyer/AP
By Euronews with AP
Published on Updated
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TikTok said operations are underway at the first of its three European data centers, part of the Chinese owned app's effort to ease Western fears about privacy risks.

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TikTok has announced that operations are underway at the first of its three European data centers, which the social media app is launching to try to appease Western concerns over privacy.

The so-called 'Project Clover' was initiated after a number of government agencies around the world banned TikTok from employee devices.

The app's parent company ByteDance - a Chinese company that moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020 - launched the initiative to create a "secure enclave for European TikTok user data," according to Theo Bertram, TikTok's vice-president for European government relations and public policy.

The video sharing app said on Tuesday it has started transferring European user information to a data center in Dublin. 

Two more data centers, another in Ireland and one in Norway, are under construction, TikTok said in an update.

The app has been under scrutiny by European and North American regulators over concerns that sensitive user data may end up in China.

TikTok unveiled its plan earlier this year to store data in Europe, where there are stringent privacy laws, after a number of Western governments banned the app from official devices.

NCC Group, a British cybersecurity company, is overseeing the project, and will check data traffic to make sure that only approved employees “can access limited data types” and carry out “real-time monitoring" to detect and respond to suspicious access attempts, Bertram said.

“All of these controls and operations are designed to ensure that the data of our European users is safeguarded in a specially-designed protective environment, and can only be accessed by approved employees subject to strict independent oversight and verification,” Bertram said.

TikTok was recently fined by the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) over its handling of children's data in the EU.

That decision is part of an investigation launched in 2021 into whether TikTok had violated the EU’s data protection rules, known as GDPR, by failing to ensure its age verification processes sufficiently protected the privacy of children between the age of 13 and 17.

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