- LinkedIn was accused of collecting sensitive information about users of iPhone and iPad apps in a lawsuit filed by Adam Bauer in San Francisco, Reuters reported. The complaint, which seeks class-action status, accused the Microsoft-owned social network of secretly reading the contents of people's digital clipboards that are used to copy and paste photos, texts, emails or medical records among apps.
- The activity was discovered after Apple released the test version of iOS 14, its mobile operating system that likely will be released when the company introduces its newest iPhone models. iOS 14 has a new feature to alert iPhone and iPad users when apps copy clipboard contents.
- The plaintiff accused LinkedIn of not only spying on users, but also collecting information from nearby computers and other devices while circumventing Apple's clipboard timeout that removes information after two minutes, Reuters reported.
It's too early to tell whether against LinkedIn will achieve class-action status or what it will reveal about the platform's data collection practices, and whether there will be any effect on mobile marketers that advertise on the social network for professionals. LinkedIn claims that it doesn't store or transmit clipboard contents, and attributed the activity to code that performs an "equality check" between the clipboard and typed text, Erran Berger, head of engineering at LinkedIn, said in a July 2 tweet cited by Bloomberg.
LinkedIn described the code as a bug in its iOS apps and pledged to fix it, ZDNet reported. Reddit, TikTok and dozens of other apps also have generated alerts about clipboard access in the test version of iOS 14, inviting scrutiny of their data collection practices. Reddit and TikTok have promised to fix their apps, which may alleviate concerns about data privacy by their users. It's also possible that other aggrieved parties will file suit against app developers for alleged snooping.
The class action against LinkedIn can be seen as a warning to marketers, brands, agencies and developers that they need to be mindful about their privacy practices, even design flaws in their apps are unintentional. With states like California now enforcing stricter privacy rules, marketers need to be more mindful about their data-sharing practices to avoid potential liability.