TikTok, the embattled video-sharing app that’s found itself at the center of Washington-Beijing tensions, is setting up its first data center in Europe with a 420 million euros ($500 million) investment in Ireland, the company announced.
Promising to create hundreds of jobs, improve “the safeguarding and protection of TikTok user data” and shorten loading times for users in Europe, the new data center is expected to be operational by early 2022. Once it goes online, European user data will be stored at that location, TikTok said. The outfit established its EMEA Trust and Safety Hub in Dublin earlier in the year and said the new investment “signals our long-term commitment to Ireland.”
Beijing-based parent company ByteDance Ltd., the world’s most valuable startup, has been working to distance its domestic Chinese operations from TikTok in order to appease overseas regulators. It has been accused by U.S. legislators and the Trump administration of hoovering up user data and thus creating a national security risk, and it is currently facing a six-week deadline to conclude a deal with Microsoft Corp. or another American company for the sale of its U.S. operations. It presently stores international user data on servers in the U.S. and Singapore.
The move to expand its operations within EU borders is part of TikTok’s global effort to prove itself a responsible internet citizen and a trustworthy service provider. As part of the new data center development, TikTok is also continuing to grow its data protection and privacy teams, the company said.