TikTok Takes First Steps in Turning on Norwegian Data Centre


HAMAR, Norway (Reuters) – TikTok has taken possession of a facility in Norway built by data centre group Green Mountain AS which will become the social media company’s largest in Europe as it seeks to store data generated in the region locally.

The company, owned by China-headquartered Bytedance, has been trying to address concerns over whether the Chinese government could access the data of European citizens who use TikTok.

Several countries, the European Parliament, European Commission and others have banned TikTok from staff phones due to those concerns.

“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,” Theo Bertram, TikTok’s VP of government relations and public policy, told Reuters.

“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.”

TikTok in March launched a data security regime called Project Clover to build data centres and store European user data locally.

The Norwegian data centre will be in the town of Hamar where TikTok will store data spread over three buildings and the first phase will start operating from next summer. 

The Norway data centre will run completely on renewable energy and generate heat that could be re-used. TikTok said a third-party provider is talking with multiple industries and research institutions for potential projects that can benefit from this level of heat re-use. 

TikTok said it plans to spend 12 billion euros over the next 10 years for Project Clover. It had earlier announced plans to spend 1.2 billion euros annually.

This will cover the cost of building three data centres, the implementation of privacy enhancing technologies and for employing British cybersecurity firm NCC to audit its 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 cyber security organisations, without us being involved,” Bertram said.

(Reporting by Victoria in Norway; additional reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm. Editing by Jane Merriman)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.


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