TikTok has renewed its push to ease data security fears in Europe

LONDON — TikTok unveiled new measures on Wednesday to protect user data in Europe as it seeks steps to prevent further government bans on employees who use the Chinese-owned video-sharing app in their work phones.

The company aims to create “a safe enclave for European TikTok user data,” Theo Bertram, vice president for European government relations and public policy, said in a blog post. as well as improving privacy protection.

TikTok is under pressure in Europe, where it has 150 million users, the US and other countries that fear the app could pose a risk to cybersecurity and data privacy. Western officials are also concerned that the Chinese government could use parent company ByteDance to push pro-Beijing stories and misinformation.

The European Union’s executive branch, parliament and council have ordered staff to remove TikTok’s app from devices used for official business, mirroring actions by US states, the federal government, Denmark’s defense ministry and Canada.

A senior EU official also warned TikTok’s CEO that the company must comply with the bloc’s new regulations for online platforms.

Bertram, TikTok’s vice president, provided more details on Wednesday of plans to localize data storage to servers based in Europe, where there are strict rules for protecting user information. The new data centers will be managed by third-party service providers, which have not been identified.

The tactic is similar to TikTok’s approach in 2020 when it teamed up with database software company Oracle to avoid a US ban from then-President Donald Trump’s administration.

TikTok will set up a second data center in Dublin and a third in the Hamar region of Norway, Bertram said. The company previously announced it would open its first European data center in Ireland and said last month it was adding two more, without giving details.

In the US, TikTok routes all data to servers controlled by Oracle, although it also stores backups on its own servers in the US and Singapore. The company said it expects to remove US user data from its own servers but did not specify when.

The new measures include “security gates” to add an extra layer of control, determining whether company employees can access the data of TikTok users in Europe and whether the data can be transferred. outside Europe. A European security firm will be appointed to audit the process, Bertram said.

To improve privacy, the company will work with third parties, which it does not identify, to use technology that makes it difficult to identify people from personal data.

CEO Shou Zi Chew is scheduled to testify next month before Congress, where US lawmakers will grill him on privacy and data security practices as well as TikTok’s relationship with the Chinese government.

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