TikTok plans second Irish data centre to store European data locally

17 Feb 2023

Image: © HTGanzo/Stock.adobe.com

As its user base continues to grow in Europe, TikTok is looking to keep local user data within the continent.

TikTok is set to open a second data centre in Ireland to accommodate its growing monthly user base of 150m in Europe, the company announced today (17 February).

Now in the advanced stage of finalising the plan “with a third-party service provider”, the Chinese-owned company said the data centre will help it to store European user data locally.

Data of TikTok’s European users has until now been stored across multiple locations outside the continent, including Singapore and the US, which complicates matters from a regulatory perspective because of European privacy standards and rules.

TikTok’s head of privacy for Europe, Elaine Fox, recently revealed that user data from the European Economic Area, Switzerland and the UK can be accessed by some staff in China, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and the US.

“We’re continuing to deliver against the data governance strategy we set out for Europe last year, which includes further reducing employee access to European user data; minimising data flows outside of Europe; and storing European user data locally,” Rich Waterworth, general manager for operations in Europe, said in a statement today.

The company is also in talks to establish a third data centre in Europe to “further complement our planned operations in Ireland”. Waterworth confirmed that European TikTok user data will begin migrating this year, continuing into 2024.

In April 2022, TikTok signed its first contract for and began construction on a data centre in Dublin to store European and UK user data. It first shared plans to build the data centre in August 2020, with an initial expected cost of €420m and due date of early 2022.

Fox said at the time that the investment “cements the importance of Ireland” to the company’s global business operations.

TikTok set up a Dublin base in 2018 and has been on an expansion drive since. In 2020, its Irish team was given responsibility for privacy oversight of European users and it later announced plans to establish a European Transparency and Accountability Centre in Dublin.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic