WTF?! TikTok often makes headlines for claims that its users’ data is shared with the Chinese government, but it appears that the company is also having an unintended (or possibly intended) influence on one of Europe’s largest munitions manufacturers.
Nammo, the munitions maker owned by the Norwegian government and Finland’s state-controlled defense company, can’t meet rising demand for its artillery shells because a local data center, whose main customer is TikTok, is consuming all of the region’s electricity. , preventing Nammo’s planned factory expansion.
“We are concerned because we see our future growth challenging the storage of cat videos,” Nammo CEO Morten Brandtzeg told the Financial Times.
Brandzeg said the company’s demand for artillery shells has increased 15 times over normal as a result of the war in Ukraine. He said the country wants to increase the number of rounds it uses per day from 6,000 to 65,000 as it battles Russian forces.
Elvia, the local energy company, said the network had no backup capacity because it was operating as scheduled and had promised the data center. Brandzeg believes that governments should prioritize electricity for certain sectors. “Critical industries must have access to energy,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a one-off, I think it’s a trend for the future.”
The fact that China has never publicly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and that leader Xi Jinping recently met with Vladimir Putin in Moscow to strengthen relations between the two countries, has raised questions about whether this was unintentional on TikTok’s part.
“I will not rule out that it is not a mere coincidence that this activity is close to the defense company,” said Brandtzeg. “I can’t rule it out.”
More TikTok data centers are planned for Norway, as the country offers cheap electricity and a cool climate to keep cooling costs down. It plans to build the largest data center campus in Norway by November 2023, with a capacity of up to 150 MW. The facility (above) will be powered entirely by renewable energy, mostly hydropower.
It’s been a tough month for TikTok in the US. The White House has backed a Senate bill that would allow the country to ban TikTok, something the Biden administration has threatened to do if ByteDance doesn’t sell it to anyone outside of China.
Masthead: NATO’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization