TikTok no longer wants to tap data from user clipboards

The beta version of iOS 14 had revealed that TikTok is still accessing data from users’ clipboards. TikTok wants to end this now – but had already asserted this in March.

Anyone who saves something on the clipboard on the smartphone, a URL or a text section, often has to expect that apps installed on the device can read this information. The recently launched beta version of iOS 14 reveals that various apps have access to this data from the clipboards of the users. These include TikTok, AliExpress, Patreon and Google News, as The Telegraph reports. The realization that this information is read along with apps and possibly processed has caused displeasure among users and developers. TikTok has now announced that it will discontinue this practice.

TikTok wants to detach itself from reading the clipboards

On Twitter, Jeremy Burge from Emojipedia shared a video that shows the process of reading the data from the clipboard by TikTok:

The practice is simple, some apps can read out information from the user’s clipboard and possibly use it. The added value of this information, which may be cached even while using only one app, remains questionable. However, it is worrying for users that, without being actively informed, they have passed data on to apps such as TikTok in this context. That should change at least with the ByteDance app, as is evident from the report of the Telegraph. A spokesman stated:

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 company is also

committed to protecting users ’privacy and being transparent about how our app works.

Is TikTok’s project just a reaction to public criticism?

The telegraph journalist Laurence Dodds had already reported on the practice of reading out user clipboards in March. He had realized that this was common SDK behavior. In a reply to Jeremy Burge’s tweet, he said that TikTok had already told him that the practice would be stopped within weeks.

Since TikTok did not specify a specific point in time when the readout was terminated, users have to assume that it will continue for a while. At the latest with the release of iOS 14 in autumn, the practice should cause even more eddy than currently. Then other apps could be criticized more; perhaps less for reading the clipboards than for the secrecy of this procedure.

TikTok has now clearly spoken out against reading clipboards. However, despite immense growth and strong user numbers, the app also has to fight for public trust. A complaint came again in spring 2020 because the requirements for protecting children on the platform were not complied with; In this context, TikTok had to pay a US $ 5.7 billion fine to the Federal Trade Commission in 2019. Various data protection concerns surround the app, which is banned by organizations such as the Homeland Security Service, the US Army or US Navy, for example, because the handling of user data and the possible proximity to the Chinese government are viewed as a problem.


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