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Tower of Fantasy Official “ID Leaking” Controversy Revealed a Practical Problem

Identity theft is something we cannot ignore.
By Johnson Ge
Dec. 30, 2021 updated 02:59

A Few days ago, a Bilibili user named “蹦蹦炸弹嘟嘟可” uploaded a video in which he suspected official personnel from Tower of Fantasy might be intentionally leaking Chinese IDs to foreign players so they can pass the real name verification and play the game. The video was soon deleted, but many viewers have downloaded and shared it among Chinese gaming communities. Another player found that several leaked IDs are from a list of missing persons from a natural disaster. Angry players kept criticizing Tower of Fantasy for days after, believing Tower of Fantasy employees were involved.

People keep reuploading the deleted videoPeople keep reuploading the deleted video

Tower of Fantasy is a new MMORPG released on Dec 16th, 2021. The game currently only provides service in China, and the global release date is still unclear. China has one of the most restrictive real name verification systems for game players. In this case, anyone who wants to play Tower of Fantasy must provide an actual Chinese ID first. That has put up a big barrier to the foreign players who cannot wait to play this game.

The video creator claims he found people sharing multiple Chinese IDs with others on a Discord server called “Tower of Fantasy.” And he suspects the server may be related to Tower of Fantasy employees. Because he found some of the accounts marked as “TapTap Staff,” and the admin of the server “Ariws” is verified on TapTap as “Tower of Fantasy CM.”

Violating citizens’ personal information is a crime in China and may result in imprisonment for seven years. And it is always bad for an enterprises’ reputation when it is linked with a crime by the public.

However, the evidence claiming Ariws is related to a Tower of Fantasy employee is not solid. Ariws is a moderator of the Tower of Fantasy forum on TapTap with 1.3K followers and is verified with “Identity Verification” by TapTap. This means that TapTap considers their account as an “Influential Person.” 

The orange icon means the account owner is popular and verified.The orange icon means the account owner is popular and verified.

On Dec 26th, Tower of Fantasy Official Website and TapTap posted announcements to clarify that Ariws is not an official employee of either Tower of Fantasy or TapTap. Though some employees of TapTap did join the Discord server for player recruiting and sending opinion polls, they did not take part in managing the server or leaking Chinese resident IDs. Tower of Fantasy’s Official Website also indicated that they might take legal action against the video creator since they believe the video is incorrect and misleading.

The creator in question then made an announcement, as a response, claiming that he revealed this for a good cause. He is also willing to communicate further with Tower of Fantasy and offered help to stop the violation of Chinese resident IDs.

Despite the controversy around the identity of Ariws, both sides confirmed that the Chinese ID leaking does exist. In Ariws’ Discord server, they posted several Google-translated announcements and claimed a user named HADES, instead of Ariws, did post multiple Chinese IDs in the #general-lounge channel. 

After comparing the unconcealed part of the picture with the list of missing persons, it is very likely that HADES is illegally sharing the Chinese IDs from the list of missing persons from a landslide natural disaster.

The Local government published the list in 2017 to contact missing residents. Some people on the list survived. But the list was not been deleted after that, making it possible to be found by anyone online. 

On Dec 27th, after the announcement had been made. We found that someone suggested that Baidu Baike remove the ID numbers on the missing persons list and they quickly updated it. So now the ID numbers are no longer on Baidu Baike. Though, they can still be found on other sites.

That is not the only list spread online. We also found a video on YouTube illegally putting another list of Chinese IDs with the family name “陈.” This list existed online no later than 2014 when someone posted it on Steam.

The violation of resident IDs is not just damaging to the ID owner. People who illegally use them may also face large ramifications. Every year, China’s government will publish lists of fugitives with their name and ID number. If someone gets the IDs from other sources online, believing they are just another “Leaked Chinese ID” and begins using them, they could run into real trouble. We saw a similar scenario in this case.

In November, someone posted an ID in the #general-lounge channel of Ariws’s Discord with a name starting with “尹” and suggested another player try it. However, this ID was published by Vietnam media due to the fact that the ID owner escaped from a COVID-19 quarantine zone and was hunted by the Vietnam government. 

We found many other leaked/faked Chinese IDs online during our research. Anybody could find the stolen IDs from a search engine. And people on the list may have their IDs illegally used by random people while they are unaware. Though many angry players may believe this is a new problem, identity theft in this manner has been a significant issue for years.