Both browsers have basic, built-in spellchecking features enabled by default, which do not transmit data back to Google or Microsoft. Chrome’s ‘Enhanced Spellcheck’ and Edge’s ‘Microsoft Editor’ are exclusively opt-in add-ons that users must explicitly authorize, and while it’s made clear that your data will be sent back to both companies to improve the products, it’s not so obvious that this could include your personally identifiable information (PII).
Because the spell checkers work with webpage text fields, both tools have access to everything. This means that any data you input online, including your date of birth, payment details, contact information, and login credentials could all be being sent back to Google and Microsoft.
Bleeping Computer found the transmission of usernames to SSA.gov, Bank of America, and Verizon, using Chrome, with passwords also being exposed to CNN and Facebook only when the ‘show password’ or equivalent button had been clicked.
One way to minimise exposure is for web developers to include “spellcheck=false” to any input fields that may require sensitive information, effectively blocking out those fields from spellchecking tools, though this will of course mean that spellchecking will be disabled in these entries.