TikTok says it will stop accessing users’ clipboard content on iOS devices, after a new privacy transparency feature in iOS 14 revealed the video sharing platform was continuing the practice it had pledged last year to discontinue, The Telegraph reported.
Whenever a third-party app accesses the clipboard of a device with iOS 14, a notification pops up. Users discovered that TikTok was checking content from the clipboard every few keystrokes, even when the app was running in the background.
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
TikTok parent company, Beijing-based ByteDance, had said earlier this year it planned to stop accessing devices’ clipboards, The Telegraph reported, but did not give a firm date.
A TikTok spokesperson said in a statement emailed to The Verge on Friday that it had submitted an update to the App Store to remove the feature, which it described as an “anti-spam” measure. The feature was never introduced to Android devices, according to the company.
“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,” the spokesperson said, adding that the company was “committed to protecting users’ privacy and being transparent about how our app works.”
TikTok has come under criticism for past security issues; in February 2019, the company paid $5.7 million to the Federal Trade Commission over alleged violations of COPPA, a children’s privacy law. It had been allowing children under 13 years old to sign up for the app without parental consent. It’s since made changes to the app that increased parental controls.
Several US government agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration, the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Navy, and the Army, have banned the use of the app on government-issued devices, citing security concerns over ByteDance’s connections to the Chinese government.