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TikTok to open first European datacentre in Ireland during early 2022

The CISO of TikTok has confirmed the social video company's plans to open its first European datacentre in early 2022, as its data security processes come under increased scrutiny from the US government

TikTok is to open its first European datacentre in Ireland in early 2022, as part of an ongoing push by the Chinese-owned video-sharing social networking site to safeguard European user data.

In a blog post announcing the move, Roland Cloutier, the company’s global chief information security officer, said around €420m will be spent on the project, which will create “hundreds” of jobs and deliver an improved user experience for TikTok account holders.

According to statistics from market watcher Oberlo, TikTok has 800 million users worldwide as of July 2020, and its app has been downloaded 2 billion times from the Apple App Store and Google Play mobile app marketplace. 

“This new regional datacentre will deliver tangible benefits, including enabling faster loading times that will help our TikTok community to enjoy an even better experience,” he wrote. “When our datacentre is operational, European user data will be stored in this new location.”

The company already has a growing presence in Ireland, following the creation of TikTok’s Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Trust and Safety Hub in Dublin at the start of 2020, which has also coincided in the appointment a number of data security-focused executive hires.

“Reflecting the importance of our Irish operations, TikTok’s Irish company recently became the data controller alongside TikTok’s UK company, with the former now the service provider for our users across the EEA and Switzerland. As part of this development, we are also continuing to grow our data protection and privacy teams,” Cloutier added.

He also went on to reveal the company has been working closely with IDA Ireland, the organisation tasked with drawing overseas investment into the country, on the project.

IDA Ireland CEO Martin Shanahan said TikTok is a very welcome addition to the role call of tech firms that have established a presence in the country, which includes the likes of Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft.

“TikTok’s decision to establish its first European datacentre in Ireland, representing a substantial investment here by the company, is very welcome. Following on from the establishment of its EMEA Trust & Safety Hub in Dublin earlier in the year, it positions Ireland as an important location in the company’s global operations,” added Shanahan.

News of its European datacentre plans comes at a testing time for TikTok, as its Chinese parent company – ByteDance – is finding itself under pressure to offload its US operations to software giant Microsoft at the behest of President Trump.

As previously reported by Computer Weekly, Microsoft has confirmed it is “committed” to acquiring the TikTok’s US operations, and conducting a thorough security review into its workings, after Trump threatened to shutdown the service in the US over the threat he claims its Chinese origins pose to the country’s national security.  

“Microsoft will move quickly to pursue discussions with TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, in a matter of weeks, and in any event completing these discussions no later than 15 September 2020. During this process, Microsoft looks forward to continuing dialogue with the US government, including with the President,” Microsoft said, in a statement.

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