To improve transparency, the Chinese short video platform plans to store user data in Europe. Despite taking similar measures, the US remains skeptical.
With a new data protection concept, TikTok, the Chinese video platform, aims to address growing security concerns raised by Western countries. Through Project Clover, TikTok plans to store data of European users in-country starting from this year. This process is expected to be completed by 2024.
To achieve this, two additional data centers will be opened, one in Ireland and one in Norway, operated by unnamed third parties. In the US, the company is pursuing a similar strategy under the codename Project Texas. “We are a company that is committed to compliance,” said TikTok’s government relations manager. Currently, the data of European users are stored in Singapore and the US.
Storing data in Europe is set to begin this year, with the move continuing until 2024. However, the data of European users will not be exclusively stored in Europe, as this is not possible for a globally operating service. An independent partner will monitor the data flows, and TikTok has been in discussions with a candidate for this role for six months, though they have not disclosed the name. In the US, TikTok is having the app’s software code reviewed in a similar structure by the software giant Oracle.
The platform, famous for short dance videos, and its parent company, ByteDance, are under increased scrutiny due to their proximity to the Chinese government. Security agencies fear that the Chinese government may gain control of data from foreign users. They may also manipulate the software’s recommendation algorithms to exert influence. TikTok and the Chinese government have repeatedly denied these allegations.
However, employees of US ministries, the EU Commission, and several other states are required to delete the app from their work phones. Additionally, the US is working on legislation for a complete ban of TikTok.
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