How Google chat features keep your conversations secure

When using chat features, your messages are sent using the Rich Communication Services (RCS) protocol. Chat features will be turned on only when all the participants in a conversation have chat features. When you message using RCS, your message is sent over Wi-Fi and mobile data. Either your RCS provider (e.g., mobile carrier), or Jibe Mobile from Google, can provide chat features. This article describes chat features by Google.

How chat features work

When chat features are provided by Google, messages are sent and received through Google’s RCS backend over the internet using data and Wi-Fi. With RCS, messages can be delivered to (or received from) users on other RCS service providers. If chat features are provided by Google, your messages go through Google’s RCS backend, and are then routed to your recipient's RCS backend (if your recipient isn’t using Google RCS). Delivery of SMS and MMS messages, which are always sent through your carrier, won't change.

How your messages are sent

  • If your message’s compose bar says "Chat message," your message is sent through RCS: Either using chat features by Google or via your carrier’s RCS service.
  • If your message’s compose bar says "Text message," your message is sent through your carrier as SMS/MMS. SMS/MMS conversations have "SMS" or "MMS" below the send icon.

Information we use

To ensure your messages are properly routed, Google uses information including your phone number, device identifiers, and SIM. This information may be retained for about a month after RCS deactivation or inactivity. When you turn on chat features, your contacts will be checked to see if they can also use chat features, and will be checked again when you message them. These checks and your chat messages may go through other service providers to reach your contacts.

How we protect your data

Chat features by Google uses Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption to protect your messages. This means that anyone trying to intercept your messages between you and Google would only be able to see encrypted, unreadable text.

If chat features are provided by Google but the recipient's RCS service is provided by another provider, your messages will be processed through Google’s RCS backend, and then are routed to your recipient's RCS service.

How and why your data is temporarily stored

In addition to TLS encryption, RCS messages you sent using Google’s RCS backend are deleted after delivery. Users have the option to fall back to SMS or MMS provided by their carrier, in which case the corresponding RCS message is deleted from Google’s RCS backend.

Google’s RCS backend sends and temporarily stores files like images, videos, gifs, and stickers with random, unguessable URLs. These URLs aren't visible to you or the person receiving your message. Google hashes this URL to prevent a link between the hosted file and your phone number.

Turn off chat features

  1. Open Messages Messages Logo Round.
  2. Tap More More and then Settings.
  3. Tap Chat features.
  4. Turn off Enable chat features.

When you turn chat features off, other features like typing indicators and read receipts also turn off.

Important: Chat features might work for about 8 days after removing your SIM card.

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