iFive: U.S. WikiLeaks Probe Illegal?, Apple’s Friend-Finding, NASA’s New Rocket, HP’s WebOS Tablet, Rapidshare’s Defamation

On this day 11 years ago Bill Gates left Microsoft, but that doesn’t mean that his firm stopped innovating–nor anyone else either. On that note, here’s this morning’s early innovation news:

1. The WikiLeaks saga has taken a new, bizarre government-level twist: E.U. lawmakers are pushing to see if U.S. “snooping” on Twittering E.U. citizens involved with WikiLeaks is illegal under privacy laws, especially given the lack of a proven crime and any form of judicial enquiry. If it proves so, the influential MP group may be able to try to push for legal action against the U.S., or at least for some serious political hassling.


2. Apple may be about to leap aboard the social gaming/networking bandwagon by its backdoor: Coders, digging through a new test edition of iOS for iPad and iPhone have found references to a “find my friends” API hook. Instantly this has set the technosphere wondering if Apple will leverage its Mobile Me and “find my iPhone” technology into a service that rivals Loopt or Google Latitude.

3. NASA just did something fascinating: Among the political, financial, and scientific tensions of developing a new rocket, it delivered technology that sounds eminently sensible to Congress. It’s a new heavy lift rocket that uses core abandoned Ares 1 and 5 rocket tech, the Space Shuttle Main Engines (honed over decades of expertise) and the Shuttle’s main tank tech. The upshot: A plausible, affordable, sensible evolved rocket that could arrive sooner than later.

4. HP’s EVP Todd Bradley has all but confirmed that on February 9th his company will finally reveal a tablet PC to challenge the iPad that leverages all the good tech HP acquired when it bought ailing Palm, in the wake of the Palm Pre’s failure to challenge the iPhone. Will HP and Palm achieve the impossible this time around?

5. Rapidshare, the online portal for file-dumping/file-sharing, has recently come under scrutiny as a potential haven for pirated files. This is something the firm’s not taking lightly and it’s now threatening to sue the source of the accusations, “enterprise brand protection” company MarkMonitor, for defamation.

To read more news on this, and similar stuff, keep up with my updates by following me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.

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