In iOS 14, Apple has fixed a major issue within the software where apps could assess the clipboard secretly on users' phones. When the new OS is released, users will be notified whenever an app reads the last thing that has been copied to the clipboard. Many apps have been caught abusing the privacy of users through this crack.
One of the major apps that have been caught abusing user privacy is TikTok. This raised security concerns about the app as well as broader concerns when taking its Chinese origins into account. At the time, Bytedance - the app's owner, had said that the problem was related to an outdated Google advertising SDK that was being replaced.
This may not be true. With the release of the new clipboard warning in the beta version of iOS 14, TikTok was caught abusing the clipboard in a very surprising way. It seems that the app didn't stop their invasive practices back in April as they promised.
Jeremy Burge, the founder of Emojipedia, had posted a Tweet showing that TikTok had copied contents from the clipboard every 1-3 keystrokes. The video showed the iOS 14 paste notification popping up as he typed.
After this, the excuse that TikTok used to excuse their app's abuse of privacy had changed. According to the app, the issue is now “triggered by a feature designed to identify repetitive, spammy behaviour.” Forbes has been told that an updated version of the app has been submitted to the App Store in order to remove the anti-spam feature and "eliminate any potential confusion."
Apple's universal clipboard functionality is something that users want to take into consideration. Anything you copy on your other devices - iPad or Mac, can be read by the app on your iPhone. So if TikTok is active on your phone, anything can be read by the app - passwords, work documents, emails, financial information.
TikTok has been caught abusing data for iOS users, however, we do not know whether this issue is occurring for Android users.
iPhone users should get the update as soon as possible. Before the update, you might want to keep in mind the app is actively reading your clipboard. Perhaps uninstall the app for the time being.