Thursday, January 28, 2010

Male Arrested in Japan for Uploading via Perfect Dark (Updated)


posted on 2010-01-27 19:07 EST
1st arrest of anime file-sharer who used software that promised better anonymity

Kyodo News and other news sources report that Kyoto's High-Tech Crime Task Force has arrested a male suspect on Wednesday for allegedly uploading anime online, without the copyright holders' permission, using the Perfect Dark file-sharing software. Other people have been arrested foruploading anime online, but not for using Perfect Dark, a "next-generation" program which was intended to maintain its users' anonymity better than its predecessors. (The Perfect Dark file-sharing program has no relation to the Nintendo 64/Xbox Live Arcade game of the same name.)

According to the High-Tech Crime Task Force, the suspect uploaded the televised Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood anime in January. The suspect is accused of uploading over ten works in one day.

People Arrested for Using Earlier Share Program

Last November, police in Japan arrested 11 people for allegedly sharing films, music, anime, games, and other content using an earlier program called Share. The uploaded anime reportedly included Ranma ½, Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Dragon Ball Kai, Fresh Precure!, Fullmetal Alchemist, andLucky Star. The first three people accused of using the Share file-sharing program were arrested in May of 2008 in three different prefectures. These three suspects reportedly shared anime from the Gundam franchise.

History of Winny, Share, and Perfect Dark

An even earlier peer-to-peer file-sharing software called Winny was developed in 2002 by a then anonymous computer engineering research assistant known as "47-shi" ("Mr. 47"). The software promised anonymity for its users, but the High-Tech Crime Task Force found flaws in its integrated forum feature. After two users were arrested for sharing copyrighted material using Winny in 2003, the developer was identified as Isamu Kaneko of the University of Tokyo and was also arrested. He was convicted and sentenced with a 1.5-million-yen (about US$12,000) fine, but was then acquitted last October.

During Kaneko's arrest and trial, another anonymous developer created the Share program which promised better protection of users' anonymity on Winny's file-sharing network. Since security researchers also found flaws in Share in 2006, other successor applications such as Perfect Dark have been developed.

Japan's Copyright Law prohibits unauthorized uploaders but expresslyallowed people to download for private use until this month. In June, the Japanese parliament passed an amendment that will make it illegal to knowingly download copyrighted material without authorization for the first time. The new law went into effect on January 1, 2010.


Image © Hiromu Arakawa/FA Projects, MBS

Update: In a separate case, the Cyber Crime Task Force of the Chiba Prefectural Police and the Ichikawa Municipal Police searched four Manga Land Internet cafes on Tuesday on suspicion that they displayed anime without the copyright holders' permission. According to Japan's Association of Copyright for Computer Software (ACCS), the accused infringed on copyrights by showing the first episodes of Mobile Suit Gundam, Major, andDragon Ball to two customers between January 13 and 15. The three anime are owned by Sunrise, Shogakukan Shueisha Production, and Toei Animation, respectively.

ACCS alleged that the accused stored animation and other content on in-house servers, and allowed the content to be accessed from personal computers that were installed for customers to use without restrictions. The police confiscated three personal computers, seven servers, and 26 hard drives from the Motoyawata branch store. ACCS further alleged that the accused obtained the animation content via Share, Perfect Dark, and other file-sharing software. Source:

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Understanding the web to make search more relevant


1/22/2010 10:30:00 AM
Last year at our second Searchology event, we announced Google Squared and Rich Snippets, two approaches to improve search by better understanding the web. Today, we're kicking off the new year with two improvements based on those technologies. First, we're applying the research behind Google Squared to add a new "answer-highlighting" feature to search, and second we're expanding Rich Snippets to include events.

Answer highlighting in search results

Most information on the web is unstructured. For example, blogs integrate paragraphs of text, videos and images in ways that don't follow simple rules. Product review sites each have their own formats, rating scales and categories. Unstructured data is difficult for a computer to interpret, which means that we humans still have to do a fair amount of work to synthesize and understand information on the web.

Google Squared is one of our early efforts to automatically identify and extract structured data from across the Internet. We've been making progress, and today the research behind Google Squared is, for the first time, making search better for everyone with a new feature called "answer highlighting."

Answer highlighting helps you get to information more quickly by seeking out and bolding the likely answer to your question right in search results. The feature is meant for searches with factual answers, such as [meet john doe director], [john lennon died], or [what was the political party of president ford]. If the pages returned for these queries contain a simple answer, the search snippet will more often include the relevant text and bold it for easy reference.

Consider the example, [empire state height]. The first search result used to look like this:

With today's improvements, the answer —1250 ft, or 381 m — is highlighted right in the search result:

This kind of quick answer only makes sense for certain kinds of searches. For example, the answer to [history of france] can't readily fit in a search snippet. However, for the kinds of information you can easily put in a table, we've been able to take what we've learned from Google Squared to make search better for a wide range of queries. Answer highlighting is rolling out during the next couple days on in English.

Rich Snippets for events

Sometimes the easiest way to understand somebody is by having a conversation. The web is similar. As much as we're happy with the progress we're making with Google Squared, we also appreciate that a great way to understand web pages is to simply ask webmasters to teach us (and other search engines) about their content. To that end, we continue to make improvements to our search results with Rich Snippets, enabling webmasters to annotate pages with structured data in a standard format.

So far we've launched improved search result snippets for reviews and people. When your search results contain web pages with review information, you might see the number of user reviews on the page and the average rating in the search result. When your search contains a public profile page about a person from a social networking site, you may see the person's location and occupation, or a list of her friends.

Today, we're announcing support for a new Rich Snippets format for events. The new format improves search results by including links to specific event names, dates and locations. Here's an example of a new event result from if you search for [irving plaza]:

The new result format provides a fast and convenient way to identify pages with events and click directly to the ones you find interesting. If you're into Hip Hop Karaoke, you can quickly find out when and where the next show is in Irving Plaza, and click for more info. We've been working with a few sites to ramp them up for our initial launch, but it will take time for other webmasters to start implementing the new markup. Check out our blog post on Webmaster Central for more details.

Links to this post

Google Attempts Answers, Not Search Results

Helping computers understand language


1/19/2010 11:51:00 AM
An irony of computer science is that tasks humans struggle with can be performed easily by computer programs, but tasks humans can perform effortlessly remain difficult for computers. We can write a computer program to beat the very best human chess players, but we can't write a program to identify objects in a photo or understand a sentence with anywhere near the precision of even a child.

Enabling computers to understand language remains one of the hardest problems in artificial intelligence. The goal of a search engine is to return the best results for your search, and understanding language is crucial to returning the best results. A key part of this is our system for understanding synonyms.

What is a synonym? An obvious example is that "pictures" and "photos" mean the same thing in most circumstances. If you search for [pictures developed with coffee] to see how to develop photographs using coffee grinds as a developing agent, Google must understand that even if a page says "photos" and not "pictures," it's still relevant to the search. While even a small child can identify synonyms like pictures/photos, getting a computer program to understand synonyms is enormously difficult, and we're very proud of the system we've developed at Google.

Our synonyms system is the result of more than five years of research within our web search ranking team. We constantly monitor the quality of the system, but recently we made a special effort to analyze synonyms impact and quality. Most of the time, you probably don't notice when your search involves synonyms, because it happens behind the scenes. However, our measurements show that synonyms affect 70 percent of user searches across the more than 100 languages Google supports. We took a set of these queries and analyzed how precise the synonyms were, and were happy with the results: For every 50 queries where synonyms significantly improved the search results, we had only one truly bad synonym.

An example of a bad synonym from this analysis is in the search [dell system speaker driver precision 360], where Google thinks "pc" is a synonym for precision. Note that you can still see that on Google today, because while we know it's a bad synonym, we don't typically fix bad synonyms by hand. Instead, we try to discover general improvements to our algorithms to fix the problems. We hope it will be fixed automatically in some future changes.

We also recently made a change to how our synonyms are displayed. In our search result snippets, we bold the terms of your search. Historically, we have bolded synonyms such as stemming variants — like the word "picture" for a search with the word "pictures." Now, we've extended this to words that our algorithms very confidently think mean the same thing, even if they are spelled nothing like the original term. This helps you to understand why that result is shown, especially if it doesn't contain your original search term. In our [pictures developed with coffee] example, you can see that the first result has the word "photos" bolded in the title:

(Note that because our synonyms depend on the other words in your search and use many signals, you won't necessarily always see the word "photos" bolded for "pictures", only when our algorithms think it is useful and important to bold.)

We use many techniques to extract synonyms, that we've blogged about before. Our systems analyze petabytes of web documents and historical search data to build an intricate understanding of what words can mean in different contexts. In the above example "photos" was an obvious synonym for "pictures," but it's not always a good synonym. For example, it's important for us to recognize that in a search like [history of motion pictures], "motion pictures" means something special (movies), and "motion photos" doesn't make any sense. Another example is the term "GM." Most people know the most prominent meaning: "General Motors." For the search [gm cars], you can see that Google bolds the phrase "General Motors" in the search results. This is an indication that for that search we thought "General Motors" meant the same thing as "GM." Are there any other meanings? Many people can think of the second meaning, "genetically modified," which is bolded when GM is used in queries about crops and food, like in the search results for [gm wheat]. It turns out that there are more than 20 other possible meanings of the term "GM" that our synonyms system knows something about. GM can mean George Mason in [gm university], gamemaster in [gm screen star wars], Gangadhar Meher in [gm college], general manager in [nba gm] and even gunners mate in [navy gm].

Here are screenshots of those disambiguations of GM in action:

As a nomenclatural note, even obvious term variants like "pictures" (plural) and "picture" (singular) would be treated as different search terms by a dumb computer, so we also include these types of relationships within our umbrella of synonyms. Pictures/picture are typically called stemming variants, which refers to the fact that they share the same word stem, or root. The same systems that need to understand that "pictures" and "photos" mean the same thing also need to understand that "pictures" and "picture" mean the same thing. This is something that is even more obvious to a human but is also still a difficult task for a computer. An example of how this is difficult are the words "animal" and "animation," which share the same stem and etymology, but don't mean the same thing in standard use. Another tricky case that is very dependent on the other words in the query is "arm" vs. "arms." Arms might seem like the plural of arm, but consider how it might be used in a search: [arm reduction] vs. [arms reduction]. Google search is smart enough to know that the former is about removing fat from one's arm, and the latter is about reducing stockpiles of weaponry, and that arm/arms are dangerous synonyms in that case because they would change the meaning. These subtle differences between words that seem related is what makes synonymy very hard to get right.

Here are some other examples of synonyms we thought were interesting:

[song words], "lyrics" is bolded for "words".
[what state has the highest murder rate], "homicide" is bolded for "murder".
[himalayan kitten breeder], Google knows that "cat breeder" is the same as "kitten breeder".
[dura ace track bb axle njs], Google knows that "bb" here means "bottom bracket".
[software update on bb color id], "blackberry is bolded for "bb".
[bb cream dark], Google knows here that bb means "blemish balm".
[southeastern usa bb fitness & figure], "bodybuilding" is bolded for "bb."

Lastly, language is used with as much variety and subtlety as is present in human culture, and our algorithms still make mistakes. We flinch when we find such mistakes; we're always working to fix them. One of the best ways for us to discover these problems is to get feedback from real users, which we then use to inspire improvements to our computer programs. If you have specific complaints about our synonyms system, you can post a question at the web search help center forum or you can tweet them with the hash tag #googlesyns. You can also turn off a synonym for a specific term by adding a "+" before it or by putting the words in quotation marks.

How will NASA defend Earth against killer asteroids and comets?


Report outlines NASA’s option in discovering, defending against hazards from space
By Michael Cooney, Network World
January 22, 2010 06:01 PM ET
Sponsored by:

Combinations of space- and ground-based telescopes may be the most economically palpable defenses NASA can mount against asteroids and comets heading toward Earth, but there are more advanced defenses involving spacecraft and nuclear explosions that might be plausible in the future.

Those were just some of the conclusions included in a report, “Defending Planet Earth: Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies,” issued today from scientists at the National Research Council on what options NASA has to detect more near-Earth objects (NEOs) -- asteroids and comets that could pose a hazard to Earth.

NASA telescopes watch cosmic violence, mysteries unravel

The same council issued a preliminary report in August saying imminent impacts (such as those with very short warning times of hours or weeks) require better current discovery capabilities. Existing surveys are not designed for this purpose; they are designed to discover more-distant NEOs and to provide years of advance notice for possible impacts. In the past, objects with short warning times have been discovered serendipitously as part of surveys having different objectives. Search strategies for discovering imminent impacts need to be considered, and current surveys may need to be changed.

No matter what though, the report says the $4 million the US currently spends annually to search for comets and asteroids is insufficient to meet a congressionally mandated requirement on NASA to detect NEOs that could threaten Earth.

The report states that while impacts by large comets or asteroids are rare, “a single impact could inflict extreme damage, raising the classic problem of how to confront a possibility that is both very rare and very important. Far more likely are those impacts that cause only moderate damage and few fatalities.”

An asteroid or comet about 10 kilometers in diameter struck the Yucatan peninsula 65 million years ago and caused global devastation, probably wiping out large numbers of plant and animal species including the dinosaurs, the report states.

Objects as large as that strike Earth only about once every 100 million years on average, the report notes. NASA has been highly successful at detecting and tracking objects 1 kilometer in diameter or larger, and continues to search for these large objects. The report notes that NASA has managed to accomplish some of the killer asteroids mandate with existing telescopes but with over 6,000 known objects and countless others the task is relentless.

Objects down to sizes of about 140 meters in diameter -- which NASA has been mandated to survey for -- would cause regional damage; such impacts happen on average every 30,000 years, the report says.

The report recommends that NASA monitor for smaller objects -- those down to 30 to 50 meters in diameter -- which the report says recent research suggests can be highly destructive.

The report states that detailed studies of ways to mitigate collisions are best viewed as a form of insurance. How much to spend on these insurance premiums is a decision that must be made by the nation’s policymakers.

The report goes on to say that with sufficient warning four types of mitigation could meet the threat from all NEOs, except what it called the most energetic ones:

• Civil defense (evacuation, sheltering in place, providing emergency

• infrastructure) is a cost-effective mitigation measure for saving lives from the smallest comet or asteroid hit and is a necessary part of mitigation for larger events.

• “Slow push” or “slow pull” methods use a spacecraft to exert force on the target object to gradually change its orbit to avoid collision with the Earth. This technique is practical only for small NEOs (tens of meters to roughly 100 meters in diameter) or possibly for medium-sized objects (hundreds of meters), but would likely require decades of warning. Of the slow push/pull techniques, the gravity tractor appears to be by far the closest to technological readiness.

• Kinetic methods, which fly a spacecraft into the NEO to change its orbit, could defend against moderately sized objects (many hundreds of meters to 1 kilometer in diameter), but also may require decades of warning time.

• Nuclear explosions are the only current, practical means for dealing with large objects (comets or asteroids with diameters greater than 1 kilometer) or as a backup for smaller ones if other methods were to fail.

“Although all of these methods are conceptually valid, none is now ready to implement on short notice, the report says. Civil defense and kinetic impactors are probably the closest to readiness, but even these require additional study prior to reliance on them,” the report stated.

NASA has been increasing its ability to track dangerous comets and asteroids. For example, part of the space agency’s recently launched Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer spacecraft to uncover objects never seen before, including the coolest stars, the universe's most luminous galaxies and some of the darkest near-Earth asteroids and comets.

In addition, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory recently launched the Asteroid Watch Web site to act as a centralized source for information on objects hurtling at Earth.

All contents copyright 1995-2010 Network World, Inc.

Oracle-Sun Deal Observers Mull MySQL Fate


The impact on MySQL and Java are the subject of industry chatter as Oracle's acquistion of Sun Microsystems lurches towards the finish line.

By Charles Babcock, InformationWeek
Jan. 22, 2010

Few were surprised by the European Union's approval of Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems announced Thursday. Even critics expect it to proceed smoothly to completion now. But with the merger prospect more immediate, some observers are taking a more realistic look at what changes might result.

Rod Johnson, founder of SpringSource and now general manager of VMware's SpringSource unit, said in an interview Thursday that he expected Oracle to maintain the Java programming language and its Java Community Process that provides ongoing development of it. Johnson sits on an executive committee of the JCP, overseeing key development initiatives.

"It's not in the business interest of Oracle to do anything that would damage the Java ecosystem," with its portfolio of Java applications and middleware, he noted. The world of development is roughly equally divided between Microsoft's .Net technologies versus Java and a small set of open source scripting languages.

At the same time, he said, there are potential toll gates for software firms that depend on Java, some of whom are Oracle competitors. Sun charged Java vendors for use of its Java test suite, the set of more than 30,000 tests that provided the only means for certifying that a new piece of software was "pure" Java. In addition, Sun charged a license fee to vendors who embedded the Java Virtual Machine in their products.

"Oracle's practice is to increase prices as much as the traffic will bear, then increase them a little more," said Johnson, who is also the lead developer of the Spring Framework open source Java development platform. VMware acquired SpringSource in August for $362 million.

When Oracle acquired BEA Systems, it ramped up the price tag of WebLogic application server by 42%, he said. Oracle may be tempted to increase the price tags on the test suite and JVM. But doing so unreasonably will drive software vendors to the open Java and JVM alternatives, he said.

When it comes to Sun's Java middleware, the picture is more likely to be mixed. Oracle has no need for another Java application server, having both its own Oracle Application Server and WebLogic. But Sun's Glassfish Java application server was beginning to gain some traction as developers downloaded and used it for new projects.

"As I understand it, that traction began to disappear as Oracle announced its plans to acquire Sun" April 20, and the Glassfish project is likely to be cut loose and ignored as a contributor to the Oracle product line, he predicted. "I think there has to be some concern that it's not in Oracle's interest for MySQL to become competitive function-wise with the Oracle database. Oracle doesn't want price pressure coming from MySQL," Johnson said.

A second observer, Rodger Burkhart, CEO of the open source Ingres database company and an Oracle competitor, was one of the first to raise his voice in saying that the European Commission had it wrong if it viewed MySQL as a direct competitor with Oracle.

It served a different purpose in the marketplace, primarily as a high-speed, read-only server of Web pages, he said in an InformationWeek interviewSept. 4, a comment that was repeated widely by other industry participants, including IBM spokesmen to the European Commission.

But keeping all of MySQL's development initiatives intact after the acquisition may prove difficult, despite Oracle's public list of R&D commitments to MySQL.

As an example, Burkhardt cited changes his staff has observed on the MySQL Web site since the European Commission held its final hearings on the proposed acquisition in December. What Oracle will do with Sun's Identity Manager and Portal Server products will be part of the "massive digestion exercise" that now awaits it, once the acquisition is completed.

When it comes to the MySQL open source database, Johnson said he heard Oracle declare it didn't compete with MySQL so many times that it began to sound like "Oracle didn't have any competitors."

"MySQL used to offer information on migrating from Oracle to MySQL. They had a nice methodology, a flowchart and tools," Burkhart said in an interview. He said his staff has observed MySQL staffers over the last six weeks minimizing or eliminating information on their Web site. "That stuff has been taken down," he declared.

Burkhardt said he is on the lookout for how MySQL's relationships with partners who are Oracle competitors change after the acquisition. He thinks another change in MySQL staff outlook will be to show sensitivity to Oracle in what partner products they offer alongside MySQL, weeding out those of direct competitors.

"This is business. Oracle has bought that (MySQL AB) business," he said, but MySQL users shouldn't believe nothing will change after the acquisition. The Web site changes indicate a sensitivity within the MySQL staff to Oracle interests that will only be heightened once the acquisition is completed, Burkhart said.

One observer, Nobby Akiha, senior VP of marketing at Actuate, a supplier of business intelligence reporting applications, was optimistic Oracle will be able to steer the right course. Actuate has incorporated the Eclipse Foundation's BIRT open source code into its proprietary product, while supporting the open source community, he said.

"If Oracle sticks to its commitment to spend more on R&D, maintain healthy relations with third-party developers and launch advisory board to help guide MySQL's future, we imagine they'll see great success," he said in an email to InformationWeek.

Oracle already owns InnoDB and Berkeley DB, embeddable open source code systems that it acquired and maintains, without complaints, as open source code.

But Florian Mueller, the EU campaigner opposed to the deal and advisor to Michael Widenius, one of MySQL's original authors, remained un-mollified. In an message, he said the EC's decision was "based on wishful thinking for the future, more than anything else. "

Many observers say MySQL is OK inside Oracle because if Oracle artificially restrains it, the code can fork and a new open source version launched. "Forks are a legal possibility but there's no reason to assume than any MySQL fork could threaten Oracle to the extent that MySQL could."

He said the commitments Oracle had made to continue development of MySQL "are not legally binding." Once the owner of MySQL, "I can't think of a single bad thing, short of discontinuing the product immediately, that Oracle couldn't do, while still complying fully with those promises in a legal sense," he wrote.

Copyright © 2009 United Business Media LLC, All rights reserved.

Hack Attacks Test Google's Link to China


White House Enters Fray, Saying Obama "Troubled" by Cyber-Attacks Originating From Country

By Daniel Sieberg

(CBS) Google the word tension and you may find an online showdown between the biggest search engine and the Chinese government, reports CBS News Correspondent Daniel Sieberg. Now the White House is weighing in, saying Friday that President Obama is "troubled" by alleged cyber-attacks originating in China.

Late last year, a student group that criticizes China's rule in Tibet learned false e-mails were being sent in their name. Their Google-provided e-mail accounts had been hacked.

"I was extremely startled," said Tenzin Seldon of Students for a Free Tibet. "I couldn't believe that someone, an unknown stranger, could hack into my account so easily."

Last week, Google traced the sabotage back to China and says the break-ins were part of a pattern of cyber-attacks on human rights activists who criticize China.

"It's very difficult to tell whether or not these are really Chinese government officials," said Larry Clinton, president of Internet Security Alliance. "More likely they are people who have a loose affiliation with the Chinese government."

Google has had a tense relationship with China ever since it entered the country in 2006. The Chinese government forces Google to censor some search results on like the 1989 uprising in Tiananmen Square.

So far, Google has stopped short of accusing the Chinese government of the hack attack. But the company is putting pressure on China to end censorship.

"These attacks ... combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web, have led us to conclude that we are no longer comfortable continuing to censor our results on," Google said in a statement.

Translation: Google is threatening to pull out of China if it can't operate freely. On Thursday, the stand off intensified when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized the Chinese government.

"We look to the Chinese authorities to conduct a thorough review of the cyber-intrusions," she said.

In the last quarter, Google took in $150 million from China, just a fraction of the $6 billion it made worldwide. But Google says what's at stake here isn't profits, it's principle and making sure it doesn't lose the trust of its users.

?MMX, CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Google Threat Jolts Chinese Internet Industry


BEIJING — Google Inc.'s threat to walk away from China sent shockwaves through the country's fast-growing Internet industry Wednesday, with users, executives and analysts trying to gauge the potential fallout.

The U.S. search giant's announcement that it will stop censoring its Chinese search site, and may withdraw from the country altogether, triggered an outpouring of concern, and some anger, among Chinese Internet users. Students and others gathered at Google's offices in Beijing and Shanghai Wednesday with flowers in an emotional show of support for the company, which analysts say has an audience of more than 40 million loyal users in China.

Associated Press

Flowers left by China's Google users are seen on its sign outside the Google China headquarters in Beijing on Wednesday.

"It's a tragedy if Google pulls out of China," said Xu Hao, a junior studying Japanese at Tongji University in Shanghai. Wu Zhiwei, a sophomore studying philosophy at Fudan University in Shanghai, said "a lot of people are very angry at government censorship," and also said he understands that it contradicts Google's philosophies on free-Internet use.Google's statement, which also said that the company had discovered massive cyber attacks against itself and numerous other foreign companies that it said emanated from China, jolted foreign businesses that operate in the country. It prompted quick response from human rights advocates, who praised Google's statement, and from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said Google's allegations "raise very serious concerns and questions." "We look to the Chinese government for an explanation," Mrs. Clinton said on a visit to Hawaii. "The ability to operate with confidence in cyberspace is critical in a modern society and economy."

The Internet giant operates a Chinese-language search engine from Beijing that has similar functions to its international English-language Web site, but which tailors its search and other products like news and maps to the needs of users based in China. Because the Web site is operated locally, the company is required to abide by Chinese regulations, including requirements to filter its content and remove search results related to pornography and politically sensitive content, in order to stay in operation.

The Google statement was widely followed on China's Internet, and was initially treated as a major story by local Web sites. But China's official state media offered limited coverage of the issue, and news portals later in the day began restricting coverage of the story after being ordered to play down coverage of it, according to several people working for the portals. Several sites had translated and posted the full text of the statement by David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer, originally published in English on Google's blogspot blog, which is not accessible in China, but these translations appeared to have been removed soon after they were posted.

Internet users continued to comment on the news, however. Some worried their Google e-mail accounts would be deleted, and others expressed concern that Chinese authorities would further tighten its Internet controls. "Our postings on the Internet are deleted by [other] Web sites, or when we upload pictures showing bad things on the street, they are deleted … I don't know what to do without Google," Ms. Xu said.

Google users "are all very active users of the Internet. They have high demand for the stability of Gmail, and also rely on it a lot in their daily lives," said Lu Bowang, managing partner with the China IntelliConsulting Corp. The firm estimates that 80 million people log on to Google at least once a week, and half are frequent users of the Web site. If Google leaves China, the impact on the Chinese Internet will be "huge," Mr. Lu said.

Despite significant difficulties along the way, Google has had a major impact throughout China's information technology sector since it entered the market in 2005. If the U.S. company's decision to discontinue its cooperation with Chinese censors leads to the shuttering of its Chinese Web site,, it could throw the future of its investments and partnerships throughout the Chinese Internet and telecommunications sectors into question – while also potentially creating opportunities for Chinese rivals.

Google last March launched a music service in cooperation with, a Chinese company in which it owns a stake, and with the world's four biggest music labels, Warner Music GroupCorp., Vivendi SA's Universal Music, EMI Group Ltd., and Sony Corp.'s Sony Music Entertainment. That free, advertising-supported service, which lets users download or stream music in China, has been closely watched as a possible solution to rampant music piracy.

Sina Corp., one of China's largest Internet portals, partners with Google to offer the American company's search bar on its home page. China Mobile Ltd., the country's largest mobile carrier, uses Google's Chinese mobile search service on its handset browsers. The state-owned company has released several smart phones that run on Google's Android operating system, and is planning many more in partnership with various handset makers, as part of its competitive response to a rival carrier's launch of Apple Inc.'s iPhone in China.

Officials at Google's partner companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment, and it's not clear that its other initiatives and investments would be damaged if Google shuts its Chinese search business. Technically, most of Google's partnerships and other investments could continue, but by snubbing Chinese authorities so publicly, the company risks government retaliation against itself or its partners.

Google's share of the Chinese market has risen markedly in recent years, to 35.6% in the fourth quarter of 2009 from less than half that just three years earlier, according to Beijing-based research firm Analysys International. That still made it a distant second to Chinese competitorBaidu Inc., which boasted 58.4% market share in the latest period. But it makes Google arguably the most successful foreign Internet company in China, whose 338 million Internet users as of June were more than any other country.

Chinese government officials have yet to respond to Google's declaration, and Chinese media were largely silent on the issue, with some reporters saying the topics of censorship and cyber espionage were too sensitive. But a report by China's state-run Xinhua news agency quoted an official at China's State Council Information Office saying authorities were seeking more information on the Google statement. As of Wednesday, Google's Chinese Web site was still filtering search results, with a message at the bottom of its Web pages notifying users of the practice.

News of the security breach at Google and other companies alarmed other foreign companies with China operations. Google's statement against censorship in China also set a new standard for many multinational companies that have cooperated with the Chinese government for years, saying that sacrifices had to be made in order to reach China's massive market.

Mr. Lu lamented the possibility of Google's departure. He said Google's "influence on the Chinese Internet industry goes far beyond its role as a search engine, mostly thanks to its strong power of innovation … the existence of Google in the Chinese market was always regarded as a motivation for Chinese Internet ventures' efforts to innovate. Without Google, such motivation … would be gone."

Still, analysts said some in the industry could stand to benefit from Google's departure. Baidu, for example, could immediately benefit if its main competitor vanishes—although it might also risk a backlash if Chinese users angry over Google's treatment see Baidu as aligned with government censors.

Chinese Internet portals such as Inc., Inc., and Tencent Holdings Ltd.--all of which have their own search engines with negligible market share—could also benefit.

"If Google pulls out from the market completely, it will be a fight between Tencent, Netease and Sohu for the number two spot," said Elinor Leung, an analyst at CLSA.

—Sky Canaves and James T. Areddy contributed to this article.

Write to Loretta Chao at and Aaron Back at