Sueball locked, loaded and pointed at LinkedIn over iOS privacy naughtiness

Company 'aware and reviewing' the lawsuit, not your clipboard. Honest


Microsoft's social-media-for-suits tentacle, LinkedIn, has attracted legal fire for allegedly peering at the clipboard of iOS devices.

A putative class-action lawsuit [PDF], filed on Friday by Adam Bauer in the US District Court for Northern California, has claimed that LinkedIn's iPhone and iPad apps peered at Apple's Universal Clipboard, which can also briefly contain data from nearby Mac devices.

As well as doubtless making the podcast app a bit worse (as it seems to do with every release), the upcoming version of Apple's mobile OS also features a bunch of privacy features, including a notification telling the user when an app is reading from the device's clipboard.

Those brave enough to take the beta of iOS 14 out for a spin now receive notifications when the clipboard is accessed and have found that some apps – allegedly including LinkedIn's – have been reading from the clipboard without the user triggering a paste command.

The clipboard could contain all manner of private information (the lawsuit suggested cryptographic keys or medical data) as users hop from app to app "and LinkedIn was surreptitiously reading it – again and again and again – without any user-triggered paste commands, and without even notifying the user."

The suit from New York-based Bauer claimed the alleged behaviour violated federal and state law. The legal eagles are looking for class-action status thanks to the millions of users potentially affected.

LinkedIn has tried to head things off before the filing. Its VP of engineering, Erran Berger, insisted that the app didn't store or transmit the clipboard contents, and the code merely did "an equality check between the clipboard contents and the currently typed content in a text box."

Berger went on to tell worried users that the company had submitted a new version of its app that removed the offending code.

Of the lawsuit, LinkedIn spokesperson Dan Miller told The Register: "We are aware and reviewing."

Regardless of whether Bauer's action proceeds or achieves class-action status, the arrival of iOS's additional privacy notifications will give developers pause for thought when it comes to what their apps (or the components upon which their apps depend) are doing.

A careless bit of code looking at things it shouldn't without a nod from the user could attract the unwanted – and expensive – attention of the legal system. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Meet Wizard Spider, the multimillion-dollar gang behind Conti, Ryuk malware
    Russia-linked crime-as-a-service crew is rich, professional – and investing in R&D

    Analysis Wizard Spider, the Russia-linked crew behind high-profile malware Conti, Ryuk and Trickbot, has grown over the past five years into a multimillion-dollar organization that has built a corporate-like operating model, a year-long study has found.

    In a technical report this week, the folks at Prodaft, which has been tracking the cybercrime gang since 2021, outlined its own findings on Wizard Spider, supplemented by info that leaked about the Conti operation in February after the crooks publicly sided with Russia during the illegal invasion of Ukraine.

    What Prodaft found was a gang sitting on assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars funneled from multiple sophisticated malware variants. Wizard Spider, we're told, runs as a business with a complex network of subgroups and teams that target specific types of software, and has associations with other well-known miscreants, including those behind REvil and Qbot (also known as Qakbot or Pinkslipbot).

    Continue reading
  • Supreme Court urged to halt 'unconstitutional' Texas content-no-moderation law
    Everyone's entitled to a viewpoint but what's your viewpoint on what exactly is and isn't a viewpoint?

    A coalition of advocacy groups on Tuesday asked the US Supreme Court to block Texas' social media law HB 20 after the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals last week lifted a preliminary injunction that had kept it from taking effect.

    The Lone Star State law, which forbids large social media platforms from moderating content that's "lawful-but-awful," as advocacy group the Center for Democracy and Technology puts it, was approved last September by Governor Greg Abbott (R). It was immediately challenged in court and the judge hearing the case imposed a preliminary injunction, preventing the legislation from being enforced, on the basis that the trade groups opposing it – NetChoice and CCIA – were likely to prevail.

    But that injunction was lifted on appeal. That case continues to be litigated, but thanks to the Fifth Circuit, HB 20 can be enforced even as its constitutionality remains in dispute, hence the coalition's application [PDF] this month to the Supreme Court.

    Continue reading
  • How these crooks backdoor online shops and siphon victims' credit card info
    FBI and co blow lid off latest PHP tampering scam

    The FBI and its friends have warned businesses of crooks scraping people's credit-card details from tampered payment pages on compromised websites.

    It's an age-old problem: someone breaks into your online store and alters the code so that as your customers enter their info, copies of their data is siphoned to fraudsters to exploit. The Feds this week have detailed one such effort that reared its head lately.

    As early as September 2020, we're told, miscreants compromised at least one American company's vulnerable website from three IP addresses: 80[.]249.207.19, 80[.]82.64.211 and 80[.]249.206.197. The intruders modified the web script TempOrders.php in an attempt to inject malicious code into the checkout.php page.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022