TikTok to Expand European Data Centers Amid Privacy Concerns. TikTok announced on Friday its plans to open two more data centers in Europe to address growing concerns over data privacy. The move is aimed at allaying fears about the Chinese-owned video-sharing app’s handling of user data in the West, where it has faced criticism from European and American authorities.
The company’s European operations general manager, Rich Waterworth, stated in a blog post that TikTok is “at an advanced stage of finalizing a plan” with a third-party provider for a second data center in Ireland. This comes a year after the announcement of its first data center in Ireland. In addition, TikTok is also in talks to set up a third European data center, with no location specified yet.
“Regarding local data storage, in line with the growth of our community, we’re looking to expand our European data storage capacity,” Waterworth said. He also mentioned that data for European TikTok users will be migrated to the new centers starting this year.
The move to expand data centers in Europe comes amid concerns that Beijing could use TikTok to collect data on Western users or push pro-China narratives and misinformation. TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that relocated its headquarters to Singapore in 2020.
The European Union’s sweeping new digital rules, called the Digital Services Act, mandate 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. Last month, a top EU official warned TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew that the company would have to comply with these new regulations.
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.
Facebook and Instagram, owned by parent company Meta, were among the other platforms that faced the stricter EU scrutiny as they released monthly user numbers in time for a Friday deadline. Facebook reported 255 million monthly active users, while Instagram had 250 million users. Twitter reported having 100.9 million users, including both registered and non-registered users. Apple did not provide a specific number but stated that its iOS App Store had more than 45 million users. Google stated that its Search service had 332 million signed-in users, while YouTube had 401.7 million signed-in users.
TikTok’s expansion of its European data centers is a strategic move to address privacy concerns and comply with new EU regulations. As the app’s popularity continues to grow among young people, ensuring the safety and privacy of user data will remain a priority for TikTok and other major tech companies.