TikTok to establish European data center in Ireland amid US crackdown
Published: Aug 06, 2020 06:18 PM

Tik Tok Photo: IC

Chinese-developed video-sharing platform TikTok confirmed with the Global Times Thursday that it will establish a new European data center in Ireland, its first in Europe, a move that analysts said displays the company's determination to strengthen data security and pursue overseas expansion, despite the US' mafia-style crackdown on the short video app.

The investment in Ireland, to the value of approximately 420 million euros ($500 million), will create hundreds of new jobs and play a key role in strengthening security of TikTok's user data in Europe backed up with a state-of-the art network security defense system there, TikTok said.

The data center is expected to be operational in early 2022.

TikTok established the Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Trust and Safety Hub in the Ireland's capital Dublin at the beginning of the year. TikTok's Irish company has recently become the data controller alongside TikTok's UK company, with the former now the service provider for users across the European Economic Area and Switzerland, according to TikTok.

Martin Shanahan, CEO of IDA Ireland, the agency responsible for the attraction and retention of inward foreign direct investment into Ireland, said: "TikTok's decision to establish its first European data centre in Ireland, representing a substantial investment here by the company, is very welcome and, following on from the establishment of its EMEA Trust & Safety Hub in Dublin earlier in the year, positions Ireland as an important location in the company's global operations."

Huang Haifeng, an independent high-tech sector observer, told the Global Times Thursday that by meeting Europe's strict requirements for data security, TikTok is proving that it does not have the security problems mentioned by the US, an act similar to Huawei's building a cybersecurity assessment center in the UK.

Owned by Chinese start-up ByteDance, TikTok has been stepping up its data privacy protection in recent years. Its overseas users' data is stored on servers in the US and backups are located in Singapore. The company has repeatedly stated the Chinese government has never asked it for user data, and it would refuse such a request.

"Even so, the US won't give you the chance to explain or justify yourself. There is incoherent logic in the US government that the app belongs to a Chinese firm and that it is related to the Chinese government," Fu Liang, a Beijing-based internet expert.

TikTok announced a plan in March to open a transparency center in Los Angeles to provide outside experts a behind-the-scenes look how TikTok teams go about the day-to-day work of moderating content on the platform. The opening of the center has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beijing-based ByteDance told the Global Times Wednesday that media reports that claimed it will reach an agreement to sell the app operations in US to Microsoft within the next three weeks are not accurate.

"Amid uncertainties ahead in the US market, TikTok has naturally tilted its resources toward European markets, where industry policies are relatively open and fair," Huang said, adding that not every European country would blindly follow the US' stance in unreasonably constrain Chinese firms.

According to Fu, if TikTok could become a separate firm from ByteDance, after moving its global headquarters to London as the media reports claim, it could avoid a dilemma similar to that encountered in the US.