A clone of the iOS 14 privacy feature is discovered in Android 12 developer code. XDA reports that in an unreleased version of the upcoming Android OS, shared by an anonymous source, a new privacy feature is found which notifies users when an app or website copies their clipboard information.
Apple rolled out iOS 14 for everyone in September 2020 with new privacy features and a lot of apps were caught spying on users by copying their data pasted on clipboards like LinkedIn, Reddit, AliExpress, Instagram, TikTok, and many others. And ironically, Google was also caught copying clipboard information. This invasive behavior risks user privacy and security by revealing their passwords, credit card credentials, social security numbers, and other personal information to possible miscreants or blackmailers. A tech analyst at Mysk wrote that this practice is “very, very dangerous, These apps are reading clipboards, and there’s no reason to do this. An app that does have a text field to enter text has no reason to read clipboard text.” Therefore, Google is now introducing the same privacy barrier on Android.
Other privacy updates included in the latest operating system include sharing approximate location instead of precise location, notifying when an app is using the microphone and camera of the smartphone, upgrading to accounts to ‘Sign in with Apple’, developers will self-report privacy practices on their apps’ product pages on the App Store. And in Spring this year, App Tracking Transprency feature will be released which will compel all developers to get users’ permission to track their online activity.
Google introduces iOS 14 like clipboard privacy feature on Android 12
As discovered, Android 12 will allow users to configure a new setting to reveal when and which app has pasted their copied information from the clipboard.
One of the significant privacy-related changes in Android 10 was the blocking of clipboard access in the background. Since Android 10, apps can no longer read the contents of the clipboard if they aren’t in the foreground or they aren’t set as the default keyboard app. If the app is in the foreground, though, it can continue to read the clipboard like before.
In Android 12, Google is testing a new “show clipboard access” toggle under Settings > Privacy that, when enabled, will show a toast message whenever an app reads the clipboard. This is a small change but will be useful in alerting you when an app you’re using is accessing the clipboard.
Apple received a lot of support from the public, human rights organizations, and regulators for its new privacy features, especially for the upcoming App Tracking Transparency (ATT) update. Therefore, Google is also reported to test an ATT ask permission prompt alternative for Android to allow users to opt-in data tracking by apps across third-party apps and websites. Protection of privacy is one of the users’ major concerns and it is a good omen that tech giants are listening to users’ demands. Android 12 update is expected to release Fall of this year.