TikTok to open first European data centre in Ireland

The move could signify a desire to shift its operations away from the US as well as secure its position in the European market

TikTok has announced plans to open its first European data centre in Ireland, an investment worth around €420 million (£380 million).

The news comes following the US government’s crackdown on the video-sharing social media platform. President Donald Trump had previously threatened to ban the app on the basis of Chinese-linked security threats and on Monday he demanded that the US Treasury receive a cut of the proceeds from the forced sale of TikTok. However, according to regulatory lawyers, this may be open to challenges.

TikTok’s decision to open a data centre in Ireland, the first in Europe, could signify a desire to shift its operations away from the US as well as secure its position in the European market.

The million-euro investment is expected to create hundreds of jobs, as well as facilitate faster loading time and safe storage of European users’ data, according to Roland Cloutier, TikTok’s global chief information security officer.

“This data centre signals our long-term commitment to Ireland and we expect the data centre to open and be operational by early 2022,” Cloutier wrote in a blog post.

Late last month, TikTok Ireland became the data controller for users in the EEA and Switzerland.

“Ireland already plays a key role in our rapidly expanding European operations,” said Cloutier. “Since establishing our EMEA Trust and Safety Hub in Dublin at the start of this year, we have rapidly expanded our team and appointed senior leaders who are continuously enhancing the strategies, policies and processes designed to keep people on TikTok safe.”

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Commenting on the announcement, Martin Shanahan, CEO of IDA Ireland, the agency responsible for the attraction and retention of inward foreign direct investment into the country, said:

“TikTok’s decision to establish its first European data centre in Ireland, representing a substantial investment here by the company, is very welcome and, following on from the establishment of its EMEA Trust & Safety Hub in Dublin earlier in the year, positions Ireland as an important location in the company’s global operations.”

With the new investment, TikTok might be hoping to receive better treatment from regulators in the EU than those in the US.

In late June, the platform signed the EU's Code of Practice on disinformation, agreeing to a set of voluntary steps aimed at combating the spread of false information and ‘fake news’. However, it is unclear whether this will be enough to appease the EU and ward off the sort of restrictions imposed on fellow Chinese tech companies.

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