Chinese-owned technology company TikTok has announced plans to build a $500 million European data hub which will be located in Ireland. It is expected to become operational by 2022.

The center will store videos, messages and other data generated by European users from the short-form video-sharing app. Until now all of its users’ records have been stored in the US, with a back-up copy held in Singapore.TikTok said that the decision to set up a European center was something it had been thinking about “for a long time.”

The app’s director of public policy for Europe, Theo Bertram, told The Irish Times “This is a demonstration of our commitment for the long term in Europe and this is also about cementing the important role that Ireland plays for TikTok.” He added that “Dublin is really important for us and is going to grow rapidly.” 

TikTok employs more than 1,000 people in Europe, with over 800 based in Britain and Ireland. It has been expanding its presence in Dublin in recent months as speculation mounts that its Chinese parent ByteDance might decide to locate its European headquarters there.

The hugely popular video-sharing social media platform has become the latest target of the Trump administration, with Washington accusing it of collecting data on Americans and sending it to the Chinese government. TikTok has denied any links to Beijing, stressing that all its servers used for the American market are located in the US. Tech giant Microsoft announced it is interested in buying TikTok’s US business to continue operations in the country.

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