19 April 2021
Apple's upcoming iOS 14 is currently under beta phase and is packed with various privacy features. One such feature is aimed at alerting users whenever an app accesses clipboard content. It has already started working its magic as a few notable apps have been caught snooping on the clipboard. LinkedIn and Reddit are two such high-profile apps that have been found to be guilty of this unethical behavior.
Don Morton, Urspace's co-founder, was the first one to spot the odd behavior of the two big apps. LinkedIn was the first app to be found copying clipboard content for every keystroke that Morton made. He posted a video showing that the app was copying clipboard content from MacBook Pro and pasting it on the iPad Pro. It is essentially abusing the freedom that Apple provides to apps in the form of the universal clipboard.
LinkedIn is copying the contents of my clipboard every keystroke. IOS 14 allows users to see each paste notification.— Don 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 urspace.io (@DonCubed) July 2, 2020
I’m on an IPad Pro and it’s copying from the clipboard of my MacBook Pro.
Tik tok just got called out for this exact reason. pic.twitter.com/l6NIT8ixEF
This is the functionality that allows Apple users to copy content from one device and paste on the other. It is meant to boost productivity by offering a more efficient multi-tasking experience. There is no doubt that apps are supposed to make use of the feature but doing so without asking for permission from the user is what makes this unacceptable. He further found the Reddit app doing the exact same thing as well.
UPDATE: Seems like Reddit is capturing the clipboard on each keystroke as well 😕— Don 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 urspace.io (@DonCubed) July 2, 2020
Seeing the notification come up just as much. pic.twitter.com/nzbElmRG2a
In response, both the companies have offered statements mentioning that their app's behavior was unintentional. They further maintained the stance that they do not store clipboard data or content in any form. While both apps will be receiving an update that is supposed to contain the fix for the issue, these are not the only apps including in these activities. The popular Chinese app TikTok was also spotted exhibiting similar behavior recently.