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Tiktok data security in China

TikTok has launched Project Clover, which includes measures to address concerns around user data sharing. These include a separate security company to monitor data flows, increased difficulty in identifying individual users in data, and security gateways to control employee access to European user information and data transfers outside of Europe.

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TikTok has launched Project Clover to alleviate concerns that it may share user data with China. The new project includes a separate security company to monitor data flows, making it harder to identify individual users in data, and security gateways to control employee access to European user information and data transfers outside of Europe. The app has already been banned by the European Commission from staff devices due to data security concerns.

TikTok has announced plans to build two new data centers in Dublin and the Hamar region of Norway, costing €1.2bn annually. The centers will be renewably powered and operated by third parties. The move is part of the company’s efforts to store European user data locally and is part of Project Clover, which TikTok has been working on since last year. Theo Bertram, TikTok’s vice-president of government relations and public policy in Europe, said that the company needs to earn trust and is ahead of the curve in doing so. A similar project, Project Texas, is also underway in the US.

The company is striving to prove it does not pose a national-security threat with its Project Clover, which includes plans for two new data centres in Dublin and Norway. Executives have said the social media platform is going further than its peers to protect user privacy. However, it remains to be seen whether the efforts will be enough to save TikTok. The US has been particularly vocal in its concerns, and history shows that unless the US is convinced, the app’s future may remain uncertain. TikTok, with over 100 million users in the US, has been restricted from use on official devices by both the US and Canadian governments. However, TikTok has called these bans “misguided and do nothing to further privacy or security”. The Chinese government has also opposed the action, with a foreign ministry spokeswoman questioning how uncertain the US must be to fear a popular app among young people.

TikTok is concerned about becoming a “pawn” in diplomatic tensions between the US and China, following support from the US President Joe Biden to a bill that could grant powers to ban foreign-owned technology. TikTok’s CEO, Shou Zi Chew, will appear before Congress later this month. TikTok’s US Head of Public Policy, Michael Beckerman, stated that although almost all major tech companies have engineers in China and gather significant amounts of user data, the company is working to ensure data is secure. The recent announcement of Project Clover came just a day before US President Joe Biden lent his administration’s support to a bill that grants powers to ban foreign-owned technology. Michael Beckerman, expressed concerns to BBC Radio 4’s World Tonight program that the app was being used as a “pawn” in diplomatic tensions between the US and China. Beckerman stated that while TikTok gathers significant amounts of user data, it is not the only major tech company with engineers in China, and that the company is building a secure system to ensure user data is protected.

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