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LinkedIn sued over clipboard snooping iOS app activity

LinkedIn on iOS

LinkedIn has become the target of a lawsuit over allegations its iOS app reads the Universal Clipboard without informing the user, a claim that suggests LinkedIn is secretly infringing on the privacy of its users.

Reports in recent weeks generated by a new feature in iOS 14 that alerts users to times a third-party app accesses the clipboard have applied pressure on developers to update their apps. Many caught by the reports have vowed to change their ways, such as TikTok, but the promises weren't enough to prevent an inevitable lawsuit from launching.

In a lawsuit filed by Adam Bauer in a San Francisco federal court, reports Yahoo Finance LinkedIn is accused of actively reading the clipboard data without telling the user it is doing so. While the iOS 14 feature notifies when the clipboard data is pulled by displaying a "pasted from" message, the lawsuit claims the attempts to read the data by the app is being interpreted by the detection function as a pasting attempt.

The suit goes on to reference reports from developers testing out the iOS 14 betas that determined LinkedIn read the clipboard "a lot." It is further suggested that, due to the Universal Clipboard being able to copy data between iPhones, iPads, and Macs used by the user, this means LinkedIn had the opportunity to spy on data sourced from nearby computers, as well as circumventing the Universal Clipboard timeout.

The complaint is also seeking certification for class-action status, based on an alleged violation of laws or social norms in California.

On July 2, an iOS 14 beta user discovered the copying of the data by LinkedIn after every keystroke, which at the time the company attributed to a software bug. The next day, LinkedIn product engineering chief Erran Berger clarified that the bug was in a "code path that only does an equality check between the clipboard contents and the currently typed content in a text box," and that LinkedIn doesn't "store or transmit the clipboard contents."

Clipboard snooping has been found to be carried out by many popular apps across the iOS ecosystem. In June, it was determined 54 out of 56 top apps that were previously found to be reading the contents of a user's clipboard months previously were still conducting the practice.