Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 9 August 2020

LinkedIn accused of spying on iPhone and iPad users through iOS app

Class action lawsuit claims the company took information from Apple's clipboard without users' knowledge

A class action lawsuit brought by a New York-based user claims LinkedIn's iOS app not only copied information from a user's Apple device, but also from nearby computers. The company claims it did not store or transmit user data. Getty Images.
A class action lawsuit brought by a New York-based user claims LinkedIn's iOS app not only copied information from a user's Apple device, but also from nearby computers. The company claims it did not store or transmit user data. Getty Images.

Microsoft’s LinkedIn programmed its iPhone and iPad applications to divert sensitive information without users’ knowledge, according to a class-action lawsuit.

The apps use Apple’s Universal Clipboard to read and siphon the data, and can draw information from other Apple devices, according to the complaint filed Friday in San Francisco federal court. The privacy violations were exposed by Apple and independent programme developers, according to the legal claim.

Developers and testers of Apple’s most recent mobile operating system, iOS 14, found LinkedIn’s application was secretly reading users’ clipboards “a lot”, according to the complaint. “Constantly, even.”

Apple’s clipboard often contains sensitive information users cut or copy to paste, including photos, texts, emails or medical records.

“LinkedIn has not only been spying on its users, it has been spying on their nearby computers and other devices, and it has been circumventing” Apple’s clipboard timeout, which removes the information after 120 seconds, according to the claim.

LinkedIn spokesman Greg Snapper said the company is reviewing the lawsuit. Erran Berger, head of engineering at LinkedIn, said in a July 2 tweet that the company had traced the problem to a code path that performs an “equality check” between contents on the clipboard and typed text. “We don’t store or transmit the clipboard contents,” he added.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Adam Bauer of New York City, who says he routinely used the LinkedIn App on his iPhone and iPad.

The lawsuit seeks to represent a class of users based on alleged violations of federal and California privacy laws and a breach of contract claim. LinkedIn’s information collecting was reported earlier this month by outlets including the Verge and Forbes.

Updated: July 11, 2020 08:38 AM

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