Monday 29 June 2020 2:41 pm

Tiktok to transfer data control to UK arm ahead of Brexit

Tiktok has said it will be moving ownership of its users’ data in Europe to local subsidiaries, in a boost to its British arm as it prepares for new post-Brexit regulations.

The social media app’s US parent Tiktok Inc will no longer manage and safeguard data for users based in the UK and the European Union.

Instead, from 29 July, Tiktok Ireland will control the data of all users in the European Economic Area and Switzerland, while Tiktok UK will do the same for Britons.

It now has more than 1,000 staff based in Europe, with 800 of those roles in the UK and Ireland.

It comes as the UK prepares to exit from the EU at the end of this year, and discussions continue regarding the post-Brexit regulatory landscape.

“Many technology companies have based their EU subsidiaries in Ireland, due to favourable perceptions of the business climate and the pragmatic data protection authority,” said Tim Hickman, a partner at law firm White & Case.

“More recently, many businesses have given additional data protection responsibilities to their UK subsidiaries, reflecting the reality that, from the end of the Brexit transition period, the UK will be subject to a separate (though very similar) data protection regime.”

The move means the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will become responsible for overseeing Tiktok’s use of data in the UK, and hold the power to issue fines of up to four per cent of global turnover should it breach data rules.

Tiktok came under scrutiny in Europe for its data practices earlier this month, after it was found to still be scraping information from iPhone users’ clipboards despite saying it would end the practice.

“From 29 July, Tiktok’s Irish and UK entities will take over from Tiktok Inc, our US entity, to provide Tiktok to users in Europe and manage and safeguard their personal data,” said Tiktok executives Madeline Moncrieff and Cormac Keenan in a blog post.

“Protecting our community’s privacy and data continues to be our priority. Today’s announcement is part of our ongoing work to develop local teams to create the best experience for the Tiktok community.”