TikTok users who upgraded to iOS 14, for example, quickly noticed constant alerts warning them that TikTok was accessing the clipboard every few seconds. After being caught, TikTok now says that it’s removing the feature.
Okay so TikTok is grabbing the contents of my clipboard every 1-3 keystrokes. iOS 14 is snitching on it with the new paste notification pic.twitter.com/OSXP43t5SZ — Jeremy Burge (@jeremyburge) June 24, 2020
In a statement to The Telegraph, TikTok said that it accessed the clipboard to identify spammy behavior.
“Following the beta release of iOS 14 on June 22, users saw notifications while using a number of popular apps.
“For TikTok, this was triggered by a feature designed to identify repetitive, spammy behavior. We have already submitted an updated version of the app to the App Store removing the anti-spam feature to eliminate any potential confusion.
“TikTok is committed to protecting users’ privacy and being transparent about how our app works.”
An update to remove the feature has already been submitted to the App Store, and a download of the new update confirms that TikTok no longer appears to be accessing the clipboard.
TikTok did not say whether the feature would be removed from Android devices, nor whether clipboard data was ever stored or moved from user devices. Other apps have also been called out for reading the clipboard, including Starbucks, Overstock, AccuWeather, several news apps, and more.
Prior to when iOS 14 was released, a pair of developers sounded an alarm letting users and Apple know that iPhone and iPad apps were quietly accessing the keyboard. Apple’s new iOS 14 feature appears to have been added in response, and apps are no longer able to read the clipboard without users knowing exactly what’s going on.
iOS 14 is limited to developers at the current time, but Apple plans to release a public beta version next month ahead of the software’s fall launch. Clipboard reporting is just one of the many new privacy features in iOS 14, with a full list available in our iOS 14 roundup.