Genshin Impact Spyware Controversy: miHoYo Denies Allegations, Japanese iOS Players React With Clipboard Snooping Claims
After miHoYo addressed the spyware allegations regarding Genshin Impact anti cheat mhyprot2, Japanese players seemingly found proof of clipboard snooping.
miHoYo officially denied in a Japanese statement the allegations regarding Genshin Impact being akin to spyware stealing personal information. A few hours after the game released on September 28, スパイウェア (Spyware) and 原神 (Genshin Impact) started trending on Twitter, with players mentioning the game is spyware. The reason for that is, an article shared on Japanese social media from news site Generation Game, which explained Genshin Impact, on PC, PS4, iOS, and Android, includes an anti-cheat program, mhyprot2. This anti-cheat program would keep running after closing the game, and would stay installed even after uninstalling the game. Overall, mhyprot2 is the same kind of anti-cheat program as Vanguard, used by Riot Games for Valorant.
In answer to those allegations, miHoYo published an official statement in Japanese, denying the claims. miHoYo explained that none of the information read by mhyprot2 is processed, saved, uploaded, or any other kind of spyware-like action. miHoYo stated that be it on PC, PS4, or Mobile, mhyprot2 is only used to maintain a fair gaming environment and nothing else. miHoYo also deeply apologized for misleading players into thinking the program could be akin to spyware.
Moreover, miHoYo also updated mhyprot2 so the program closes itself when closing the game client. mhyprot2 is also now properly uninstalled when uninstalling the Genshin Impact client. This is also what Riot Games did with Vanguard and Valorant after complaints arose.
A message regarding the change to the Genshin Impact anti cheat program is also visible in-game, with miHoYo explaining mhyprot2 running after the PC client was closed or uninstalled was an unintentional bug that was now corrected.
Both the Japanese statement and the in-game English message from miHoYo are available below:
— 原神（Genshin）公式 (@Genshin_7) September 28, 2020
The story isn’t over though.
A few hours after miHoYo’s statement, multiple Japanese iOS players pointed out on social media that Genshin Impact reads the contents of the copy paste clipboard on startup (Thanks Otakomu for pointing it out). This was discovered via the beta feature on iOS 14, which notifies users whenever an app reads the clipboard. This is the same feature which revealed Tik Tok was reading clipboard data every few seconds.
Multiple Japanese players shared proof on social media, with screenshots of Genshin Impact on startup, with the iOS message stating the app has accessed the clipboard. Multiple users noted that it’s irregular and not something happening with other popular games on mobile, such as Japan based Cygames’ Princess Connect! Re:Dive or China based Yostar’s Azur Lane. Twitter user @nagatei said that Genshin Impact players should always fill their clipboard with gibberish before starting up the game.
— ながてい (@nagatei) September 29, 2020
As additional proof, @Gamecast_blog posted of video of Genshin Impact reading the clipboard at startup:
— 寺島壽久/ゲームキャストの中の人 (@gamecast_blog) September 29, 2020
@Gamecast_blog however also pointed out there was recently a bug where the Linkdin app would read the clipboard on each key stroke. Linkdin said it was an unintentional bug, and it really was, as proven with the app’s open source code. The bug was later corrected.
Update: Another Japanese user pointed out the issue is an known bug caused by firebase dynamic links, and is likely to be unintentional on miHoYo’s part.
— LNTakeshi (@LNTakeshi) September 29, 2020
As such, it’s best to wait for comments from miHoYo before jumping to conclusions. miHoYo was quick to deny and explain the anti-cheat “spyware” situation, so another statement will probably come soon.
Lastly, let’s take a look at some of the Japanese reactions over the controversy:
Overall, reactions from Japanese players are mixed, which is obvious as each person on earth has different opinions. While some Japanese Twitter dwellers are typical Netouyo and denounced Genshin Impact as, I cite, “the latest large-scale Chinese cyber attack targeting Japan”, many Japanese players put an ironic, comedic spin on the situation. Noting that some people are quick to call China based games “spyware” when Japanese games already did way worse.
Many Japanese players retweeted messages similar to “This new Chinese Genshin Impact game is supposed to be spyware?? Step it up guys, I’ve been playing Japanese games for years now that literally wiped my HDD”. Referencing the Phantasy Star Online 2 HDD wipe incident and the Mizuiro HDD wipe incident. Twitter user uekome jokingly said older Japanese gamers are now debating which was the worst.
— 西村@AD (@uekome) September 28, 2020
Phantasy Star Online 2 HDD wipe incident explained:
An infamous incident also named the “Phantasy Star Online 2 HDD Burst” by Japanese players. In September 2013, a bug in the updating process for Sega’s online RPG ended up deleting HDD data of many players. Sega reported that around 20,000 players were affected. The company publicly apologized about the incident, monetarily compensated the players with both real money and in-game currency, and paid the players for HDD data recovery services. I was luckily unaffected as I was pretty late to update the game that day.
Mizuiro HDD wipe incident explanation:
Mizuiro is a PC eroge first released by Neko Neko Software on April 14, 2001. According to Wikipedia, the very first prints of the Mizuiro CD-ROM had a serious bug. Uninstalling Mizuiro would completely wipe your HDD.
Personally speaking, I think it’s important to note unlike Riot Games, which is owned by Tencent, miHoYo is independent. I personally hope it will stay this way. As it makes the whole possible issue less worrying to me. We will see how miHoYo reacts.
Genshin Impact launched on September 28 on iOS, Android, PC, and PS4. A Switch version is also in development. It’s a pretty good solo open-world action RPG, with gacha elements to unlock new characters, and online coop. You can read more on Genshin Impact with our past coverage. Most notably how the game isn’t cross save with PS4. And how additional systems are coming. We’ll soon publish a beginner’s guide for those interested in trying it out too.