iOS 14 has a number of significant privacy improvements, one of which has been a source of embarrassment for several high-profile apps.
Privacy was one of the highlights of Apple’s WWDC 2020 Keynote, with the company outlining the steps it is taking to improve the level of privacy it offers customers. One such feature is clipboard monitoring. In short, iOS 14 will alert a user when an app accesses the data currently held in the clipboard. Given that users often copy and paste bank account numbers, credit card numbers, passwords and other sensitive data, this is an excellent new feature.
Unfortunately for a number of apps, however, they don’t seem to have gotten the memo. In short order, TikTok, LinkedIn and Reddit and several others have all been called out for reading the contents of the iOS clipboard. These apps were all caught accessing the clipboard even when they were not the app involved in the copy and paste function. Basically, once they were opened, they started reading the clipboard’s contents. In the case of TikTok, it appears to have been accessing the clipboard every 1 to 3 keystrokes.
All three companies have pledged to release an update that will resolve the issue. LinkedIn and Reddit blamed the behavior on bugs, while TikTok said it was a measure designed “to identify repetitive, spammy behavior.” While some users may be willing to give LinkedIn and Reddit a pass, TikTok’s intentional use of the feature does not bode well for a company that is already accused of gross privacy violations.
Either way, kudos to Apple for helping put an end to this practice. iOS 14 can’t arrive soon enough.