Why TikTok will open a data center in Europe (and greet the USA)

Why TikTok will open a data center in Europe (and greet the USA)

TikTok will build a data center in Ireland. The $ 500 million facility will store videos, messages and other data generated by European users of the Chinese app

From one side of the Atlantic to the other. The Chinese app TikTok has announced that it wants to open a "data center" in Ireland, the first in Europe, which will collect the data of its European users, with an investment of 500 million dollars.

So far, videos, messages and other user data are stored in the United States, with a backup copy in Singapore.

Since TikTok's future in the United States is uncertain , the company has announced plans for a new data center in Ireland.


"This investment in Ireland, worth around € 420 million, will create hundreds of new jobs," said Roland Cloutier, TikTok's global information security officer. In addition, "it will play a key role in further strengthening the safeguarding and data protection of TikTok users, with a state-of-the-art physical and network security defense system".


Currently, TikTok stores user data from all over the world in the United States, with a backup in Singapore. While the Chinese version of the app, Douyin, holds its records within mainland China, the company claims that it keeps all of its user data separate and does not give access to the Chinese government.

The data is collected to target advertisements and help customize its powerful algorithm. But critics say the Chinese Communist Party could request access under its national intelligence law.


As TechCrunch has pointed out, the announcement of a TikTok data center in Europe also follows a historic ruling issued by the highest European court.

In July, the European Court of Justice established the invalidity of the Privacy Shield, the key agreement between the US and the EU used to transfer European personal data across the Atlantic for commercial use. With the Invalid Privacy Shield, there is an increased legal risk related to data processing outside the blockade of the 27 member countries.

The judges clarified that transfers of data to third countries can only be legal if the data of EU users are not endangered by problematic laws and surveillance practices. With this decision, the processing of data in countries such as China and India and the United States themselves now falls under the discipline for international data transfers provided by the Gdpr.


The general data protection regulation (Gdpr) came into force on 25 May 2018 and aims to increase the control of people over their personal information. Companies that do not comply are subject to fines of up to 4% of annual global turnover.

One way to avoid this risk is to process European user data locally. So for TikTok the opening of a data center in Ireland could represent a response to the ruling of the Court of Justice. The Irish data center will offer a way to guarantee TikTok compliance with the requirements deriving from the ruling.


This is not the first European step for Chinese society. TikTok has already established its EMEA hub for trust and security in Dublin.

In June, it also updated the regional terms of service, appointing its Irish subsidiary as local data processor together with its British entity, which means that European user data no longer falls within its US entity, TikTok Inc.

The company said it should create hundreds of new jobs when it goes into operation in a secret location between 18 and 24 months.


The announcement comes after U.S. President Donald Trump accused TikTok of posing a national security risk and threatened to ban it from the US.

Bytedance, the Beijing-based parent company of TikTok, denies the Trump administration's accusation. However, it is negotiating to sell its operations in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to the US tech giant Microsoft.

So far European political leaders have not attacked TikTok like Trump. However, the Chinese app hopes to gain Brussels' trust by pledging to retain user data locally. With the opening of the new data center in early 2022.

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL https://www.startmag.it/innovazione/perche-tiktok-aprira-un-data-center-in-europa-e-salutera-gli-usa/ on Thu, 06 Aug 2020 07:00:47 +0000.