TikTok has unveiled a new program called Project Clover, designed to convince British officials that users' personal data across Europe is reliably protected. Two data centers will be built in Ireland for this purpose. The third data center will be built in Norway.
A new program called Project Clover will serve to create “a secure enclave for European TikTok user data,” wrote Theo Bertram, TikTok’s European VP of government relations and public policy, in a blog post.
With Project Clover, TikTok is essentially bundling some previously announced initiatives alongside some new privacy and security efforts. TikTok was planning some major infrastructure investments for Europe in terms of local data centers. According to TechCrunch, two data centers will be in Ireland, while the third will be deployed in Norway.
TikTok’s “Project Texas” promised similar controls to U.S. lawmakers in 2020.
The app in past months faced creeping government restrictions on its use on cybersecurity and privacy grounds. So far, at least seven national governments as well as the European Commission, the Council of the EU and the European Parliament have restricted all or parts of their staff from using the app on phones.
One key concern of European security officials is the risk that TikTok data on its users would leak to China or be accessed by Chinese authorities. TikTok is owned by Beijing-based company ByteDance, which is subject to Chinese security legislation that could force it to cooperate with the Chinese state on data access requests.
TikTok says it has never provided data to the Chinese government.
The company in December admitted that ByteDance staff in China and the U.S. tracked journalists through the app. The staff were later fired.
TikTok intends to partner with other third-parties on integrating “the latest advanced technologies” into its existing systems. This includes what is known as personal data “pseudonymisation,” essentially making it more difficult to identify individual users in the event of a data breach.
Sources: TechCrunch, Politico