TikTok has launched security measures in an effort to pacify lawmakers as the platform faces growing concerns about its handling of user data across Europe.
The move arrives as calls for ban against the popular short-video app become more pronounced in Europe and the US. TikTok has already been banned from official devices by the European Commission and several US states. It now faces a potential ban across the US after the White House backed on Tuesday a bill that would give administration the power to block the app in the wake of national security concerns.
TikTok’s security program, titled Project Clover, will involve monitoring of data flows outside Europe by a third-party company in addition to user data being stored locally on servers in Ireland and Norway. The company began working on the project in last year.
The concerns are that TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, might be forced to transfer sensitive datasets to the Chinese government under the country’s radical laws. TikTok has, however, repeatedly denied reports that its data can be accessed by the government and reiterated the company takes user data and their privacy seriously.
The data servers operation will cost TikTok over a billion dollars a year. TikTok has yet to disclose the name of the European cybersecurity firm it will partner with for the monitoring of data.
TikTok has more than 150 million users in Europe.
The data security concerns were fuelled following ByteDance’s confirmation that some of its staff in China could access European user data. The revelation whipped up a firestorm and prompted TikTok to update its policies. Under a similar plan called Project Texas, TikTok will store data of US users locally on servers managed by tech firm Oracle Corporation. TikTok has over 113 million users in the US.