ByteDance-owned TikTok has announced plans to move responsibility for protecting the personal data of its European users to its Irish and U.K. branches from its U.S. entity, a move that comes amid growing concerns over its privacy practices.
“From July 29th, TikTok’s Irish and U.K. entities will take over from TikTok Inc., our U.S. entity, to provide TikTok to users in Europe and manage and safeguard their personal data,” the company said in a statement Monday.
TikTok Ireland will play the role of service provider for users in the European Economic Area and Switzerland. Ireland is a member state of the EU. Meanwhile, TikTok U.K. will be responsible for providing services to U.K. users, the company added.
The announcement comes weeks after the European Data Protection Board set up a task force to investigate TikTok’s data processing activities and privacy practices across the European Union.
The business function shift reflects a key role TikTok’s Irish and U.K. branches play in the app’s operations in Europe, where TikTok has more than 1,000 employees, 80% of whom are based in the U.K. and Ireland.
In late 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported that London, Dublin and Singapore were all being considered as possible locations for TikTok’s global headquarters amid tightening U.S. scrutiny.
Despite its growing popularity worldwide, TikTok has met with pushbacks from some foreign governments concerned about its Chinese roots and possible cooperation with the Chinese government.
This week the government of India, a market that accounts for one-third of the app’s total downloads, banned TikTok as well as dozens of other apps owned by Chinese tech giants including Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba, following a border conflict with China.
Contact reporter Ding Yi (firstname.lastname@example.org)