TikTok abides with EU data governance plan with Irish data center

The social video platform will finally open its long-planned European data center in Dublin, Ireland by early next year.
8 April 2022

TikTok abides to EU data governance strategy with a data center in Ireland. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)

  • The EU data center will allow TikTok to store almost all data from the UK and European Union (EU), rather than in Singapore or the US
  • The video-sharing app seems to be investing €600 million — more than it initially expected, due to the increased capacity of the center.
  • The data center will kick start with a capacity of 30 megawatts, and by the end of next year, it’ll be ramped up to 60 megawatts.

In August 2020, the popular video-sharing app TikTok announced its intention to establish a new data center in Ireland, its first in the EU. At that point of time, the social media giant had allocated approximately €420million for the plans that the pandemic eventually disrupted. At last, after almost two years of delays, TikTok has finalized the plans and the data center in Dublin will be ready by early 2023.

For context, TikTok has long stored its global user data in Singapore and the US but the company said it finds it important to provide a localized solution that includes leaning on the expertise of leadership and employees in the region. “Such a regional approach to data governance enables us to stay aligned with European data sovereignty goals,” according to its statement.

As opposed to its initial plan, TikTok will be investing more in the data center due to the increased capacity. It will start with a capacity of 30 megawatts, and will eventually ramp up to 60 megawatts by the end of 2023. After many delays, the company said it had signed contracts with a third-party data provider, and construction on the site is already underway.

TikTok delivering on EU data governance strategy

TikTok’s Europe head of privacy Elaine Fox said they had, last year, outlined the approach they are taking in Europe to data governance, based on the principles of storing UK & EEA TikTok user data locally: minimizing data flows outside of the region — and strictly limiting the number of employees with access to personal data to those who need it to do their job.

Fox further emphasized that the data center operations illustrate the company’s continued investment in Europe, and cemented the importance of Ireland to its global business operations. As it is, TikTok has a significant Irish presence. Last year the company said it would open a European cybersecurity center in Dublin, creating 50 jobs. In addition, the company’s European privacy legal team and Office of the Data Protection Officer are both based in Ireland.

There also have permanent offices in Dublin and London, two of their most important global hubs. Fox said they will also be bolstering their local leadership teams in France, Italy and Spain while scaling their business in new markets such as Belgium and the Netherlands.

“This latest investment also further cements the importance of Ireland to our global business operations. Since 2020, we’ve established and expanded a number of strategically-important functions including our EMEA Trust & Safety and European SMB Hubs,” she added. “Last year, we launched our European Transparency and Accountability Center, where we have virtually hosted hundreds of industry experts, providing them with detailed insights into how we secure our community’s safety, data, and privacy.”

According to available data, TikTok’s turnover in Europe grew in 2020 by a staggering 545% to US$170.8 million as advertisers upped their spending on the platform. The growth, as experts reckon, shows how TikTok has invested heavily in scaling up its EU business as it looks to take on rivals like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snap.