LONDON—TikTok executives launched a charm offensive in Britain aimed at convincing politicians that the data of British users are safe, said people familiar with the matter, as a growing list of other governments restrict use of the app.
TikTok executives on Monday briefed British political advisers, think tanks and other policy makers on what it described as “Project Clover,” the popular video app’s plan to secure the data of European users, the people said.
The plan’s code name makes reference to a well-known symbol of Ireland, where TikTok plans to build two data centers to store the data of European users. The name also mirrors “Project Texas,” the company’s name for a $1.5-billion proposal that it says would safeguard American users.
In recent months, the U.S. federal government and a majority of state governments, as well as the European Union and Canada, have banned government employees from using TikTok on work devices. Lawmakers say the Chinese government could force TikTok’s Beijing-based owner, ByteDance Ltd., to hand over data on users or to promote propaganda.
TikTok has said it wouldn’t comply with such a demand and has plans, including Project Texas, to mitigate such risks.
The U.K. hasn’t followed suit in restricting the app, standing out alongside Australia as close U.S. allies that haven’t enacted such partial bans.
Speaking to British policy makers on Monday, TikTok executives portrayed the company as providing unprecedented levels of transparency and independent oversight for a tech company, especially compared with competitors such as
-owner Meta Platforms Inc., the people familiar with the matter said.
Some attendees of TikTok’s U.K. briefings said they appreciated the company’s laborious efforts to demonstrate transparency, but remain skeptical of TikTok’s ability to refuse an order from the Chinese government.
TikTok representatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
TikTok executives involved in the briefings included its U.S.-based general counsel,
according to people familiar with the matter. Executives told British policy makers in the briefing that it plans to eventually store the data of European users in computer servers in Europe.
They said TikTok would also hire a third-party company to independently monitor TikTok’s European operations to safeguard against unauthorized data transfers or changes to its video-recommendation system, the people said.
TikTok executives said they have been having discussions with Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre, an arm of a government intelligence agency, the people said. TikTok executives said they believe the NCSC doesn’t see a risk with how TikTok handles its users’ data, the people said.
An NCSC spokesman declined to comment.
TikTok’s British charm offensive comes in the wake of a similar effort it has undertaken in the U.S., where Congress is considering banning the app for all Americans, not just government workers.
TikTok executives have briefed politicians and regulators on Project Texas, a plan that differs from its European effort in that it has promised Washington that American data would be stored not on TikTok’s own servers, but those of an Austin, Texas-based partner,
Write to Stu Woo at Stu.Woo@wsj.com
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