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theEweekly Wrap

Google takes on FBI – Mobiles turn 40 – Twitter takes up cricket

Google questions FBI information request

In what is thought to be the first case of its kind, Google has challenged an FBI request for user information made as part of a national security probe.

Analysts are suggesting the search engine may be the first major communications company to challenge a National Security Letter (NSL) sent by the government.

According to internet privacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation president Matt Zimmerman, only four or five other organisations have ever challenged the requests, despite the fact that they do not come with a warrant. Around 300,000 NSLs have been issued since the turn of the millennium.

Google has put a request before the court under Section 3511(a), which asks that a judge reconsider such NSLs if complying with them would be "unreasonable, oppressive or otherwise unlawful."

NSLs have already proved controversial due to the fact that recipients aren't allowed to share the fact that they've been issued one. Last month a judge ruled this unconstitutional, and demanded that the government cease handing out NSLs. However, they were given 90 days to appeal.

In January, Google revealed the four key privacy considerations it makes before deciding how to respond to government requests for user data.


Mobile phone celebrates 40th birthday

Wednesday marked 40 years to the day that the world's first mobile phone call was made, as tech commentators look at the past and future of a device many now couldn't envisage being without.

On April 3 1973, Motorola engineer Marty Cooper made the first ever mobile call. He chose to use his moment of history to call an employee from a rival company and casually inform them he was speaking on "a real cellular telephone".

That device was nine inches tall, used 30 circuit boards, took a full 10 hours to recharge and let you talk for just 35 minutes.

It took until 1981 for the service to emerge commercially, as early mobile phone models began to be used by the public. The designs look comical today, but at the time they were cutting edge, with the first UK mobile call coming in 1985 courtesy of comedian Ernie Wise.

Today, the business has two decades of mass appeal behind it, and further innovations such as the smartphone and 3G network have continued to drive the industry forward.


Twitter pairs up with IPL

Twitter is renowned for encouraging its users to follow the world's biggest sporting events. Last year's Olympics and the Superbowl are two cases in point, while other large scale events such as the Oscars also garner a lot of attention.

Now, the microblogging site is set to drive fans of one of Asia's biggest sporting events, the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket competition, to Twitter.

India is renowned for its huge number of cricket fans, with vast amounts of the population idolising stars such as Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid in recent years. The IPL was set up in 2008, with the aim of attracting top players to a lucrative Twenty20 tournament.

Its website is now encouraging supporters to get involved with the competition on Twitter, firstly by following the official account (@IPL) and then seeking out the Twitter handles of their favourite teams and players.

Furthermore, teams will be engaged in a 'Hashtag Battle' during matches, with Twitter serving as a kind of 'fan-o-meter' to see which sides are generating the most discussion online.

Written by James Riches


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