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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

TikTok plans two more European data centres amid privacy fears

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TikTok has said it is planning two more European data centres, as the popular Chinese-owned video sharing app seeks to allay growing concerns about data privacy for its users in the West.

TikTok has been under fire from European and American authorities over concerns that it could scoop up masses of user data and send it to China.

The company’s general manager for European operations, Rich Waterworth, said in a blog post that it is “at an advanced stage of finalising a plan” with a third-party provider for a second data centre in Ireland. It announced its first centre there last year.

TikTok is also in talks to set up a third European data centre, without specifying a location.

“Regarding local data storage, in line with the growth of our community, we’re looking to expand our European data storage capacity,” Mr Waterworth said.

Data for European TikTok users will be migrated to the new centres starting this year, Mr Waterworth said.

TikTok is highly popular with young people, but its Chinese ownership has raised fears that Beijing could use it to collect data on Western users or push pro-China narratives and misinformation. TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020.

A senior European Union official warned chief executive Shou Zi Chew last month that the company would have to comply with the 27-nation bloc’s sweeping new digital rules.

The Digital Services Act mandates that online platforms and tech companies with 45 million or more users take extra steps aimed at cleaning up illegal content and disinformation or face potentially billions in fines.

TikTok reported on Friday that it had 125 million monthly active users in the EU, putting it over the threshold for extra scrutiny under the new rules set to take effect later this year.

Including non-EU countries such as Britain and Switzerland, TikTok has 150 million users

Social media platforms have released their monthly user numbers

Google, Twitter, Apple and Facebook and Instagram will also face the stricter EU scrutiny, according to monthly user numbers they released in time for a Friday deadline.

Facebook has 255 million monthly active users, while Instagram has 250 million users, parent company Meta said. Twitter said it has 100.9 million users, including both registered users and those who did not sign in.

Apple said its iOS App Store had more than 45 million users but did not give a specific number. Google said its Search service has 332 million signed-in users, while YouTube has 401.7 million signed-in users.

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