AFP – TikTok launched a new effort to assuage European leaders’ worries over data security on Wednesday, as Western governments consider further bans on the video-sharing app.
Their initiative came as the Czech cyber watchdog issued its own warning, describing the Chinese-owned video-sharing app as a security threat.
Western powers, including the European Union (EU) and the United States (US), have taken a tough approach to the app, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance.
They are worried that Beijing could access sensitive user data from around the world.
TikTok executives said the company was working with a third-party European security company to oversee and check how it handles European users’ data, which will be stored at two centres in Dublin and one in Norway from 2023 onwards.
European users’ data are currently stored in the US and Singapore.
TikTok insisted this project would also reduce its own employees’ access to user data.
The company has refused to name the partner, but the three centres will cost EUR1.2 billion annually and the project began six months ago, TikTok’s vice president of European public policy Theo Bertram said in an online briefing.
TikTok already has a similar deal in the US with Silicon Valley giant Oracle to keep US users’ data in the country.
“In the same way we have done… in the US, we’ll build a secure environment around that data to prevent access from outside of the region,” Bertram said.
As the company pushes a new charm offensive to convince lawmakers there is nothing to worry about, TikTok’s general counsel Erich Andersen is in Europe this week.
He held talks with policymakers in Brussels and London. Bertram said Andersen would also speak to officials in Paris and The Hague.
Andersen will meet French Digital Minister Jean-Noël Barrot today, Paris said.
The EU’s governing institutions told staff in recent weeks to purge the app from smartphones and laptops used for work purposes.
US lawmakers are pushing a bill that would make it easier to ban the app, coming hot on the heels of a US Congress-ordered purge from all government-issued devices.
Some national governments in Europe have also restricted TikTok for government employees, and others are considering how to address cybersecurity concerns that arise from the app.