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How Apple iOS 14 revealed LinkedIn, Reddit and TikTok are copying your data

The companies promise they're updating their apps to make the practice of copying information from the clipboard, stop

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A new feature of iOS 14 is one LinkedIn, Reddit and TikTok may not have expected — the ability to see if apps are copying information on someone's clipboard. Not sure what you're clipboard does? You've definitely used it. This is the feature that stores data when you copy and paste snippets from one location on your smartphone to another.

Say you have a password to a site stored on your Notes file. When you copy that password, it's copied on to your clipboard, before you paste it into a web site. A new security update in iOS 14 shows people if an app installed on their iPhone is actually copying that data on the clipboard. And some big names have shown up in these alerts, including LInkedIn, Reddit and TikTok.

While iOS 14 is still in a developer's beta — meaning the general public does not have the operating system on their iPhones just yet — these details are making their way out as testers start playing with the new iOS. These include Talal Has Bakry and Tommy Mysk, who run the blog Mysk and develop other apps including Canvas and Ctrl, and discovered the issue back in March 2020.

Since then they've been running a list of apps that are, as they call it, "snooping" on the data stored on people's clipboard immediately when the app is opened. They last updated the list on June 30, 2020, and what's nice is they cross out the apps as their updated to "fix this privacy issue," they wrote.

LInkedIn and Reddit are not on the list, but have been shown to copy data from clipboard and are promising to fix the issue. TikTok has reportedly fixed the problem already, given the cross out over its name on Mysk. But there are several popular games still on the list, including Fruit Ninja, as well other apps including Overstock.

Others, including Don Morton, are also noting that the feature is not only copying what's on a clipboard on an iPhone — but also what's stored on clipboards on a laptop too. He found LinkedIn copying his MacBook Pro clipboard, and other apps including Patreon and the Philips Sonicare App.

This is an issue Mysk has been calling out for months, writing about the fact that iOS apps have access to the clipboard, and users don't have to give them permission to see this data, nor can they restrict the access either. The difference with iOS 14, is that an alert now pops up telling someone which app is copying that data as it's being put into the clipboard.

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