Ensuring Data Security: TikTok Hosts European User Data in Ireland and Partners with NCC Group for Audit

2023-09-05 12:39:03

As it had undertaken to try to allay fears vis-à-vis its Chinese shareholders, the social network TikTok announced on Tuesday, September 5, that it had started to host the data of its European users in Ireland. “As part of the “Clover” project, we have committed to storing the data of our European users locally, by building three new data centers in Europe. Our first data center in Dublin, Ireland is now operational and the migration of European user data to this center has already started.”wrote the subsidiary of the Chinese giant ByteDance in a press release.

This transfer is to continue until the end of 2024, when the other two data centers, one in Ireland and the other in Norway, will be operational. The project, announced in March, represents an annual investment of 1.2 billion euros for TikTok.

Read also: TikTok changes its operation to adapt to EU rules

The social network, which has 150 million users in the United States and 134 million in the European Economic Area, claims full legal separation from its entities in China and has always firmly denied any data sharing with the Chinese authorities. But TikTok faces growing limitations in both regions due to cybersecurity concerns.

Partnership to ensure data security

The social network has also entered into a partnership with the British cybersecurity company NCC Group, responsible for carrying out “an independent audit” the data protection implemented, “monitor data flows” and of “report any incident”. Modeled on the measures imposed on the social network in the United States, these provisions are intended to prevent ByteDance employees located in China from accessing “protected data” Europeans, assured TikTok officials during a conference call with journalists.

Read also: TikTok France changes president under pressure from the Senate

Among this protected data are the real names of users, 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 the interoperability of the network, will continue to circulate and be hosted outside the continent.

The company had already announced in August 2020 the opening of a data center in Ireland, which ultimately did not see the light of day. Asked, the social network did not wish to communicate the percentage of data already transferred from the current data centers in the United States and Singapore.

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Threat of suspensions

In December 2022, TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, had to admit that employees had had access to the data of two American journalists during an internal investigation into data leaks. Since then, countries like Australia, Belgium and Canada, as well as the European Commission, have banned the entertainment application on the work phones of their civil servants. The US state of Montana has announced a total ban on the app, although the decision is subject to appeal.

Also read the column: Article reserved for our subscribers TikTok ban in Montana: “Hate of China is today the only truly transpartisan subject in the United States”

“TikTok does not currently comply with European law” on the respect of personal data “because it turns out that data has passed through China” and is not “not yet fully compliant” to the new European rules which have been targeting very large digital platforms since August 25, said French digital minister Jean-Noël Barrot on Tuesday, interviewed by Sud Radio.

In July, a Senate investigative committee threatened the application with a suspension if TikTok did not take steps to clarify its ties to Chinese authorities and implement moderation. ” effective “ before January 1, 2024. The platform has since announced tools for researchers and regulators, a non-personalized news feed, the end of personalized ads for minors, and a new option to report contents. Its French branch has also decided to replace its Sino-Canadian president Zhao Tian with its director of global operations, the American Adam Presser.

Also read: TikTok: Senate investigation report recommends imposing an ultimatum on the application

The World with AFP

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