The logo of the TikTok app, in this photo taken in Tokyo on September 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)
LONDON (AP) — TikTok introduced new measures Wednesday to protect the data of its users in Europe, in an attempt to prevent more governments from banning their employees from using the Chinese-owned app on their work phones.
The company seeks to create “a secure enclave for European user data,” Theo Bertram, vice president of European government relations, said in a blog post. TikTok will restrict access to user data in a process supervised by external auditors, and will also strengthen the protection of privacy.
TikTok is under pressure in Europe, the United States and other countries over fears that it could undermine the national security or privacy of its users. Western officials fear that the Chinese government could use parent company ByteDance to spread pro-government propaganda or disinformation.
The executive arm of the European Union, its Parliament and its Council have ordered staff to remove TikTok from all devices used for official business, as have the federal government and some states in the United States, the Ministry of Defense of Denmark and Canada. .
A prominent EU official has also warned TikTok’s CEO that his company must abide by the bloc’s tough regulations for online platforms.
Bertram gave more details on Wednesday of plans to store data on servers based in Europe, where strict rules apply for the protection of user information. The new data storage centers will be managed by third parties, which were not identified.
The tactic is similar to that used by TikTok in 2020, when it teamed up with database software company Oracle to evade a ban by then-President Donald Trump’s administration.
TikTok will establish a second data center in Dublin and a third in Norway’s Hamar region, Bertram said. The company had previously announced it would establish its first European data center in Ireland and last month indicated it would add two more, without giving details.
In the United States, TikTok stores all of its data on servers controlled by Oracle, though it also has its own backup warehouses in the United States and Singapore. The company says it will delete user data on servers in the United States, but hasn’t said when.
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