By Theo Bertram, Vice President, Government Relations & Public Policy - Europe
TikTok is where creativity thrives. Over 150 million people across Europe come to our platform every month to express themselves, learn new hobbies or skills and grow their business. With such scale comes significant responsibility - building trust by ensuring the safety, privacy and security of our community and their data is critical.
Introducing Project Clover
In 2021, we set out a clear data governance strategy for Europe based on the principles of storing data locally; minimising data transfers outside of the region; and further reducing employee access to TikTok user data.
Today, we're outlining how we intend to further strengthen our approach with Project Clover - and move from meeting industry standards to setting a new standard altogether when it comes to data security. Project Clover is a program focused on creating a secure enclave for European TikTok user data. This initiative will introduce a number of new measures to strengthen existing protections and further align our overall approach to data governance with the principle of European data sovereignty.
Data access & controls
Our existing data access controls already highly limit access to user data. Building on our data security approach in the US, we are further enhancing these controls by introducing security gateways that will determine employee access to European TikTok user data and data transfers outside of Europe. This will add another level of control over data access. Any data access will not only comply with the relevant data protection laws but also have to first go through these security gateways and additional checks.
The above process will be overseen and checked by a third-party European security company who will audit our data controls and protections, monitor data flows, provide independent verification and report any incidents. We are in discussions with a third-party and will announce more details in due course.
Privacy enhancing technologies
We intend to work with other third parties on incorporating into our approach the latest advanced technologies that augment these already robust procedures. This includes, but is not limited to, pseudonymisation of personal data so that an individual cannot be identified without additional information and aggregation of individual data points into large data sets to protect the privacy of individuals.
A dedicated internal team has been working on Project Clover since last year and we anticipate implementing these novel and industry-leading measures throughout this year and into 2024.
Delivering on local data storage
Complementing these planned new measures is our commitment to store European TikTok user data locally. Last year, we announced details of our European data centre in Dublin, Ireland. Today, we are confirming the details of two more data centre sites - a second data centre in Dublin and a third in the Hamar region of Norway. Similarly to our original data centre, these two new data centres will be co-location sites operated by third party service providers.
We will begin storing European TikTok user data locally this year, with migration continuing into 2024. Once operational, these three data centres will represent a total annual investment of €1.2bn.
Driving a more sustainable approach
To align with our long-term aspiration of building a sustainable business, the new data centre in Norway will run on 100% renewable energy (primarily sourced from local hydropower) and benefit from the cooler climate by being able to use more natural cooling to lower the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) and improve energy efficiency. The operations in Norway will also recycle excess heat, which will be made available as an energy resource for new and existing activities in the surrounding area.
Project Clover reinforces our commitment to a European data governance approach that places the safeguarding of user data at its core and aligns with the principle of data sovereignty. We believe that its implementation will ensure that the 150m people who come to TikTok every month enjoy industry-leading data protection and security.