Yes — keyboards!
Every cellphone has its own pre-installed keyboard, and most vendors have great keyboards. Samsung, for example, has the Microsoft Swype keyboard pre-installed, but on top of that also has a Samsung owned keyboard that works pretty much like the Gboard from Google. Both of these are sending data, your data to Samsung and Microsoft, and possibly also Google! The same goes, of course, for Gboard from Google which is found on Pixel phones 'out of the box'.
The main problem here is that all these keyboards collect data, and we get it, it is to "improve customer experience" via AI learning Yet, it also compromises privacy and scoops up metadata you would want to avoid being shared.
Regardless of which vendor you are on, there is a keyboard pre-installed. In iOS it's Apple's, yet don't have much choice to get away from it and protect yourself. In Android, on the other hand, you do have options.
Option one, is a firewall. RethinkDNS, AdGuard, Netguard they can all block internet access to specific apps, including system apps. So if you go down this path, you can use the pre-installed keyboard and have little to worry about. However, if you like to go a little more extreme, and be safer than by just blocking network access to your keyboard, you can go with an open-source keyboard.
To do so download F-Droid (which should be the main app shop on an android phone anyway!).
From here, you have a few excellent options:
and my personal daily drive FlorisBoard
These keyboards are all excellent, and most of all they respect your privacy. I prefer FlorisBoard for the simple reason that it has all I am looking for in a keyboard, including glide to type. This only works in English so far, but it works fantastically.
FlorisBoard is still in beta, and I am sure we will see more 'glide to type' languages added in the future. This does not mean FlorisBoard does not support other languages, they do.
You have a clipboard and dictionary built into FlorisBoard, but can also use the system-wide function of clipboard or the phone dictionary.
Even though these keyboards are open-source, there is no reason they need network access, so remove it and block it if you want to put your phone's most dangerous 'secret agent' into lockdown!
Most people do not think about their keyboard, but if your texts get into an AI system for Microsoft, Google, and the like, then there is a good chance your metadata, and perhaps even everything you type, is with them too, whether you like it or not!
As always, stay safe!
The Privacy Cookbook is a weekly series written by the Privacy Advocate for editing and publication exclusively on decentralize.today. It is an 'open-source' document, so please feel free to forward and share.
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