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TikTok to invest £10bn in Europe, takes ownership of Norway data centre

Written by Wed 6 Dec 2023

A view of the Chinese social media firm TikTok's largest data centre in Europe, in Hamar, Norway, November 30, 2023. REUTERS/Victoria Klesty

TikTok, a prominent social media company owned by China’s Bytedance, has recently acquired a new data centre in Norway.

The facility, constructed by Green Mountain AS, is set to become TikTok’s largest data centre in Europe.

TikTok’s Norwegian data centre, located in Hamar, will span three buildings, with the first phase operational by next summer. Notably, the facility is reportedly powered entirely by renewable energy and will generate reusable heat. Talks are underway with various industries and research institutions to utilise this heat.

TikTok has already taken possession of the first of the three planned buildings in Hamar. The migration of European data to these servers is slated to commence from mid-2024.

The move aims to store European-generated data within the region, addressing growing data sovereignty concerns. Amid heightened scrutiny over data access by the Chinese government, TikTok has been proactive in assuring the safety of European user data.

“We understand the skepticism. And that’s precisely why we’re not just doing the step of putting the data in Europe, building that digital barrier around it. We are taking the extra step of saying we know you’re skeptical about us, and so we know we have to earn that trust,” said Theo Bertram, TikTok’s VP of Government Relations and Public Policy, to Reuters.

The initiative, known as Project Clover, was launched in March to bolster data security. It involves constructing data centres and storing European user data locally.

Over the next decade, TikTok plans to invest £10.2 billion (€12 billion) in Project Clover. This investment covers the construction of three data centres, the integration of privacy-enhancing technologies, and the employment of British cybersecurity firm NCC to audit data controls and provide independent verification.

“One of the things in the contract with NCC is they can go and talk to data protection authorities, talk to national cybersecurity organisations, without us being involved,” added Bertram.

The three data centres will be located in Dublin, Ireland; Hamar, Norway; and an unannounced location.

The full migration of TikTok’s 150 million European users is expected to be completed by the end of 2024. Currently, global user data is stored in Singapore, Malaysia, and the US.

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Written by Wed 6 Dec 2023

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