TikTok made headlines earlier this year when researchers Talal Haj Bakry and Tommy Mysk discovered that the social media app was spying on the iPhone’s clipboard.
Thanks to iOS 14’s new security features, it turns out TikTok is not alone.
This spying is not limited to a standalone iOS device. Apps also can spy on the clipboard of other nearby devices thanks to iOS’ universal clipboard.
This feature allows nearby devices with the same Apple ID to view the clipboard of these other devices. It’s a timesaving feature that allows iOS owners to copy content on one device and paste it on another.
iOS 14 Security Feature
Researchers discovered this pervasive clipboard copying thanks to the iOS 14 developer beta release. Apple embedded a new security feature into iOS 14 that alerts users when an app reads the clipboard’s data.
According to reports on Twitter, Apple was snitching on TikTok every few keystrokes, suggesting the app was constantly reading the clipboard contents.
TikTok claims it doesn’t store the clipboard data and has released an update that no longer triggers the iOS security alert.
According to researchers Mysk and Bakry, this behavior is concerning. Some apps legitimately need access to the clipboard, but most of the apps on the researcher’s list do not.
And they are not just snooping every once in a while. A YouTube video shows that apps are snooping on your clipboard almost non-stop.
Some apps like TikTok and HotelTonight have promised to change how their apps handle the clipboard. Many apps have not commented on if or when they will change the behavior of their app.