TikTok and Other Apps Secretly Read Your Clipboard
A new privacy feature in iOS 14 has identified a number of popular apps and raised concerns about clipboard privacy. In the video above, I explain why this is troubling, but there is nothing to panic about.
One small feature in iOS 14 that Apple didn’t highlight on the scene got a lot of attention as users began testing the developer beta. Twitter and YouTube users have noticed that iOS 14 will tell you when an open app accesses your phone’s clipboard, and it turns out that an astounding number of apps read your clipboard every time they launch .
Researchers Talal Haj Bakri and Tommy Mysk have compiled a list of over 30 applications that access the clipboard at startup. The most popular of these apps is TikTok, which one Twitter user realized reads his clipboard every few keystrokes.
TikTok told The Verge that this is an anti-spam feature and that they will remove it in a future update.
While it is relative to see how many applications of ignorance have been accessing the clipboard, it is important to remember that there is a legitimate reason for some applications to do so. Browser apps like Chrome look for URLs on the clipboard. The UPS application searches the clipboard for tracking numbers. These are clear and understandable reasons why an application can access information from the clipboard.
But the security issue comes from applications that access this information for unclear reasons. Why does PUBG need to read my clipboard every time it starts?
Hopefully, this iOS 14 feature will force app developers to be more transparent about why they access the clipboard and what they do with that information. But for now, the best you can do is simply not copy sensitive information to the clipboard.