iOS 14s new integrity feature has has been sneaking on many snooping apps in recent days, aroused user concerns and hopefully inspired the companies behind the apps to do something about it. The most recent apps caught were LinkedIn and Reddit, though companies want to assure users that they are fixing it.
LinkedIn users reported the jerk on social media, which consists of the LinkedIn app that copies the content of the users clipboard with every keystroke. iOS 14, which is still in beta, notifies users when this happens with a banner warning. Apparently, iOS 14 found that the LinkedIn app copied content in Clipboard for apparently no reason from multiple devices.
LinkedIn was able to copy clipboard information from multiple devices because iOS has one Universal clipboard, according to 9to5Mac, allowing Apple users to seamlessly copy text, images and photos on one Apple device and then paste the content onto another Apple device.
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A spokesman for LinkedIn told ZDNET that this was due to an error in the company’s iOS app and not intended behavior. Erran Berger, LinkedIns vice president of technology, raised the issue directly on Twitter.
“We’ve traced this to a code path that only does an equality check between the clipboard content and the currently written content in a text box,” Berger said so. “We do not store or upload the clipboard content.”
On Friday, Berger said LinkedIn would fix the error. On Saturday, he followed up and said that LinkedIn had released a new version of their app in the App Store without the code.
Reddit’s snooping was also reported by users using iOS 14 beta and shared on social media. A spokesman for Reddit told Verge that it does not store or send the content, adds that it released a fix today.
“We found this a code path in the mail composer that looks for URLs on the box and then suggests a post title based on the text content of the URL,” Reddit spokesman said. “We do not store or send the content on the board. We removed this code and released the fix on July 14th. “
LinkedIn and Reddit are not the only apps that have captured and copied the contents of the clipboard. Scientists Talal Haj Bakry and Tommy Mysk have published a list of more than 50 iOS apps who do the same thing. One of the apps that got the most attention on the list was TikTok, which is not exactly one role model for integrity.
According to Bakry and Mysk, TikTok has stopped doing this in a new update.
There are some pretty well known apps on the list – which classify apps into the categories news, games, social networks and more–including CNBC, Fox News, the New York Times, Accuweather, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Overstock and Weather Network, among many others.
As listed by Lifehacker, although it may be valid to find out that these apps can access your clipboard, there are legitimate reasons for some of them to do so. For example, the Chrome app searches for URLs, while the UPS app searches for tracking numbers.
Legitimate uses aside, it’s definitely a matter of when random apps that don’t perform clear and useful services like the ones mentioned above can’t access your clipboard. What do these apps do with the information they copy? Why do weather apps need to copy my clipboard information?
Let’s hope that all these new eyes on the issue help businesses and app developers understand the snooping is unnecessary not cool.