Google Keyboard (Gboard) makes lives comfortable by letting users send information, emoticons, stickers, GIFs and swipe text. But, at the same time, it also completes your sentences by keeping a track of the texts they send. Ever wondered if it remembers the passwords or other critical information you type?
A keyboard plays a vital role in privacy and that’s why Gboard sends only your search query and anonymous statistics to the Google server. The server then processes the data and sends a required output for it. It also helps in diagnosing the problem if the app crashes.
Is it safe?
Gboard remembers data users type as this helps in correcting spellings and ease texting experience. But the data is stored in the device, which is not accessible by any of the Google apps other than Google Keyboard. It is only when you opt for a Google search, the app’s search input is sent to the company’s server.
Google’s Smart Reply feature, which uses machine learning to show the suggested words or sentences, uses federated learning to update while users type messages. The message received is extracted and its summary is securely transmitted to the Google federated learning server.
The server uses secure aggregation to compute these summaries that ensure Google only reads the combined results and not the individual summaries, which are deleted immediately.
The Smart reply feature analyses the language the message is being sent in and if it detects English, it tries to generate a history of the last 10 messages to initiate a reply suggestion. However, the replies are only generated after it compares the message content against the list of sensitive topics, and does not generate any reply suggestion if a sensitive topic is suggested.
It’s the statistic it stores, not the data per se. Gboard just accepts the input users type, interprets it and then passes it on to the app or server you are using so you get the required output.
How to be safer
If you still want to limit the access of Gboad, follow these steps:
1. Go to settings and scroll down till you find your Keyboard option. Select the option and then click on Gboard
2. You will be directed to another box. Scroll down and select on Advanced option.
3. This will pop another list. Under Improve Gboard toggle off two options — Share usage Statistics and Share snippets.
By following these steps, the apps in use will be restricted from sending any keyboard usage stats or snippets to the Google server. You call also restrict permissions according to whichever apps you want Gboard to access.