Aaron Drapkin

Writer, editor, and freelance journalist. 


The NHS has 'opted out of respecting patient privacy'

On 1 July, the NHS will upload the medical history of roughly 55 million people registered with a GP in England onto a central database, collected by a new service dubbed the General Practice Data for Planning and Research data collection. According to NHS Digital, this will include diagnoses, symptoms, observations, test results, medications, allergies, immunisations, referrals, recalls and appointments, as well as information about physical, mental and sexual health. They say that the data i

Israel's vaccine passport scheme 'is no golden ticket'

Michael Gove is visiting Israel to study their ‘Green Pass’ vaccine passport scheme, with reports suggesting he’s been a ‘big fan’ of the initiative for several weeks now. The trip follows a Sunday Telegraph piece he penned earlier this month, where he posed the question: “if Israel can accelerate its citizens’ returns to nightclubs, football stadia and theatres with these certificates, might we?” His apparent enthusiasm to learn from Israel’s ‘success’ is somewhat concerning, considering the

Vaccine passports a 'minefield of privacy concerns'

As vaccine rollouts continue to gather pace across the globe, vaccine passports are being touted as a way to kickstart both domestic and international travel quickly and safely. The EU, China and Denmark are among the countries pushing ahead with some sort of certification system, whereas Israel is already using vaccine passports for internal travel. Back in Britain, Boris Johnson recently suggested UK pubs could operate on a “no jab, no pint” policy once the vaccine becomes available to all d

Why we should preserve anonymity on social media

The argument for anonymity on social media is important because it is this that allows individuals to freely express themselves without fear of repercussion. Yet this is also precisely the reason it has become a cloak from under which to send a barrage of hateful messages on social media, and why some have suggested putting a stop to it. Calls to prohibit ‘anonymous’ social media accounts have intensified during the pandemic throughout which period online abuse has increase . From death threat

The cursed demise of Habbo Hotel

Before Habbo’s end-of-year chaos, the platform had experienced a player surge as lockdowns came into force during the early months of 2020. The platform’s population soared by 213 per cent between late February and late March, and the influx of nostalgic returnees revitalised the game’s comparatively stagnant economy. “When a lot of older players came back into the game, it meant a lot of items that were missing for years came back into the game” recalls Alastair, who initially joined Habbo in

As a Jewish man I call out Islamophobia, because I've faced hatred too

I was educated at a typical Jewish faith school. I sang Jewish prayers, learnt Hebrew and celebrated Jewish festivals. But what made it unique, and still does to this day, is that three quarters of the students are practicing Muslims. Being a Jew in Birmingham can be a lonely affair. Less than 2,000 Brummies identify as such. For this reason, King David Primary provides a dedicated space for young Jews to learn about their heritage. But the gradually shrinking community means the school relies

'Getting Brexit Done' Is a Fantasy

The 2019 general election is over. Uninspiring campaigns littered with misleading election ads, cringe-worthy interviews and empty promises have culminated in a larger than expected Conservative majority that Boris Johnson will hope ensures he can ‘get Brexit done’. Amidst the never-ending onslaught of propaganda, those three words evidently cut through the noise. The simple slogan helped the Conservatives win seats in Labour strongholds they haven’t had a chance of winning for decades. Now he

What It Would Take for the UK to Turn Against the Royal Family

It's been a real car crash of a year for the Royal Family. Quite literally: in January, Prince Phillip broke a member of the public's wrist in a road collision that wrote off his Land Rover. Now, Prince Andrew is ending the decade tarnished by a disastrous Newsnight interview that left us with more questions than answers regarding his close relationship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein. The time between these two events saw the media occupied with the growing rift between Prince Willia

21 unusual items available on Bristol Facebook's marketplace

We all love going out for a meal, but sometimes it can be pricey. So why not buy an entire restaurant? For just £60,000, you’ll never have to worry about paying for food again. Plus, if you manage to keep hold of the establishment for just 236 years, you’ll technically have saved money. “Not sure which one it is wen plug in charger red light comes on then it doesn’t actually turn on.” What a find. Charging your phone is so 2018 anyway. Ever got in from a long day at work and thought “wow, my h

Philosophy should be taught in primary schools

Aaron ruminates on why he reckons the infamously lofty subject should be taught to younger children I have recently graduated with a Philosophy degree. I loved every minute of it. I felt it stretched my mind, and my conception of the world, so I admit I may have some positive bias towards philosophy’s potential effects on people and society. This ‘pro-philosophy’ stance is a reaction to an education system where philosophy as a subject is completely discarded in most cases until (sometimes) it’

Things full of beans that shouldn’t be full of beans: from Bristol to viral

Aaron talks to one of the people behind the disgustingly compulsive meme page and asks him, ‘why?’ I get my daily dose of memes from a variety of social media sources. ‘No context Louis Theroux’, a page that posts random, out of context screenshots from TV programmes starring everyone’s favourite awkward investigator is a personal favourite. I also enjoy ‘The Political Bible’, a page that posts only politics-based memes. I could go on for hours. But one page that always made me laugh was ‘Thing


US Companies Have Wage Hikes Planned for Next Year, Survey Suggests

Since 1985, The Conference Board has been asking compensation about increases to salary budgets and salary structure movements in order to make predictions like this one. The salary budget, as one may guess, is the proportion of a company’s finances that is put aside to pay wages. Salary structure movements, on the other hand, concern changes to pay grades and ranges and are connected to changes in the cost of living. The Reason Behind the Raise The Conference Board puts forward two overarchi

Apple’s Return to Office “Yet to be Determined”

Apple’s return to the office has been postponed indefinitely, the company says, after encouraging all employees to go out and get their vaccines and booster shots. Apple also announced a $1,000 bonus for all staff and suggested they invest in things that will make working from home much easier, such as video conferencing equipment. The news makes it the latest of the Big Tech companies to modify their paths back to the office in light of the spread of the Omicron variant. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook

Microsoft Rolls out End-to-End Encryption for Teams Calls

Microsoft has officially updated its proprietary business communications platform, Microsoft Teams, so it now supports end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for one-to-one calls. The move comes after several announcements touting the change and a trial run in October 2021. The company joins Zoom and other web conferencing services in providing this security feature for customers. With many companies moving to remote and hybrid working over the pandemic, web conferencing like Teams has provided a valuab

Shots (or You'll Get) Fired: Google Plans to Ax Unvaccinated Staff

A leaked memo from Google HQ confirms that the company is planning to terminate the contracts of unvaccinated employees. The news comes just weeks after hundreds of the tech giant’s employees signed an open letter in protest against the company’s strident position on staff vaccinations. The vaccination drive is part of Google’s push for a hybrid working arrangement for employees which will require them to be in for at least three days a week after the new year. What did Google’s memo say? Go

Log4Shell Could be The Most Dangerous Software Vulnerability Ever

The ‘Log4Shell’ vulnerability in the Java-based Log4j library, present in the computing infrastructure of millions of companies worldwide, has been dubbed “a design failure of catastrophic proportions” by security researchers as it continues to cause problems for Big Tech and beyond. IT teams around the world are scrambling to instate adequate security measures to deal with the onslaught of threat actors looking to exploit it, with some describing it as the worst software flaw to emerge in the

Buy Now, Pay Later Services Are Taking the Shopping World by Storm

Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) services exploded onto the online shopping scene a few years ago, and according to various studies conducted over the last 18 months, they are only going to get bigger. BNPL services like the Swedish-based Klarna have seen their user base soar during the pandemic, and now even integrate with in-store POS systems. But the way it changes consumer approaches to debt, as well as the fact that the industry is new and is largely unregulated, is causing some concern amongst r

Is Executive-Employee Disconnect Fuelling Mass Resignations?

A global survey published by business communications platform Slack has suggested that disconnect between executives and employees could be driving the “great resignation.” Whilst executives are keen to get back to the office and overwhelmingly see themselves as transparent leaders, “their overly rosy view of in-office work” could be exacerbating turnover. The report strongly indicates that flexible working situations are more inclusive, fair, and ultimately preferred by the majority of employee

World’s Most Expensive Typo: NFT Worth $300k Sold for $3,000

An NFT that was supposed to be sold for roughly $300,000 was accidentally put up for just $3,000, thanks to a typo made by the NFT’s previous owner. The culprit of the “fat finger error” — when someone unintentionally lists or buys an item on the internet for the wrong amount via a simple typo — was unable to unlist his item before it was snatched up. NFTs are stored on a blockchain, a decentralized, digital public ledger that exists across a network, initially used to maintain cryptocurrencie

Microsoft Patches Teams Bug Blocking 911 Calls on Android Devices

US Android users who have the Microsoft Teams app have been urged to download an update after the app was found to be ‘break’ 911 calls. A flaw meant that callers were unable to successfully complete calls to the emergency services, with one user struggling to call an ambulance for their grandmother. Google and Microsoft have said that the issue is now resolved, thanks to a Microsoft Teams update, but the fact this was even possible raises serious questions about the relationship between third

Over 100 Million Pieces of Malware Were Made for Windows Users in 2021

The data used in Atlas VPN’s analysis was compiled by independent research institute AV-TEST GmBH, which also rates and reviews antivirus software. One of the most worrying statistics to be borne out of the data is that, on average, the amount of new malicious software for Windows OS by 9.5 million since 2012, which equates to a 23% YoY increase: Atlas VPN has identified 107.28 million new threats designed for Windows devices, which is 16.53 million more than recorded in 2020. That works out at

Worth a Shot? Google Staffers Sign Manifesto Opposing Vaccine Mandate

Several hundred US employees of tech giant Google have signed a manifesto opposing the company’s vaccine mandate, according to reports published this week. Staffers have broken rank after Google ordered all its workers to update their vaccine status on its internal systems, with the Biden administration’s January 4th vaccine/weekly Covid-19 test mandate for companies with over 100 employees looming. In the US, thousands of businesses forced out of the office were saved by reliable remote acces

Hacky Holidays: FBI Expects Ransomware Surge Over Festive Period

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) have warned US businesses about the risk of Ransomware attacks during Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season. Previous years suggest there is a somewhat increased risk of attacks during festive periods, with threat actors taking advantage of complacent businesses relaxing into ‘holiday mode’. Now more than ever, it’s crucial that businesses are instituting watertight security str

Big Tech Is Fighting Over Who Gets to Build a Cloud for the Pentagon

Big Tech companies Google, Amazon, and Microsoft — as well as cloud infrastructure platform Oracle — are going to battle it out for a multi-billion-dollar government contract — and there's a chance they all might win. The Department of Defense (DoD) said on Friday that it had issued “formal solicitations” to Microsoft — which has just announced plans to build its own metaverse — and three other companies regarding the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability contract. The news comes after years of l

Chip Shortage Hits Apple; Microsoft Now World's Most Valuable Company

Microsoft officially overtook Big Tech rival Apple after last Friday’s market cap to become the world’s most valuable company once again. Although now in pole position, Microsoft is only marginally ahead of Apple, with as little as $30 billion separating the most valuable two entities on the planet. The news follows the publication of Apple’s Thursday earnings and CEO Tim Cook revealing that the company lost around $6 billion to supply chain issues relating to the global chip shortage. Micros

Pink Botnet Malware Has Infected Over 1.6 Million Devices

A botnet named ‘Pink’ infected over 1.6 million devices, according to security researchers who have been analyzing the malicious network for some time. Pink has been used to launch over 100 DDoS attacks to date, making it the largest botnet that Qihoo 360's Netlab security team has observed in the wild for around six years. Threats from hackers and botnets have ramped up in the past 18 months, with the rise of hybrid working making it harder for companies to secure all the weak points of their

Patreon is Pioneering Creator Coins and Considering Crypto Options

Patreon – a US platform that allows fans to directly reward their favorite content creators with donations and gifts – has recently launched ‘Social Tokens’ and is evaluating how cryptocurrency and NFTs could be used to pay creators. The topics were discussed at a recent tech event attended by the platform’s chiefs, whilst social tokens or ‘Creator Coins’ – a type of crypto-based social currency that allows fans to invest in their idols’ success – were recently announced on Patreon’s site. The

IKEA are fined for using personal investigators to spy on staff

Furniture and homeware giant IKEA has been forced to pay a fine totaling €1m after the retailer was found guilty of spying on staff. The ruling marks the end of a three-month-long trial exposing the company's invasive practices in France. How long has IKEA been snooping? IKEA has been fined €1m dollars by a French court for hiring private investigators and using police officers to collect personal and sensitive information about staff between 2009 and 2012. The story was broken by investigat

Data breach of UK's Department for Trade exposes bad practices

An embarrassing data breach at The Department for International Trade has exposed its shocking Freedom of Information (FOI) practices. The breach, which has been dubbed a 'human error', showed the department to be in breach of multiple rules surrounding Freedom of Information. A journalist at the news website and intelligence platform Politico was sent an email from the Department of International Trade that contained the entire FOI caseload for the government branch. Quite remarkably, this h

Tokyo Olympics organizers hit with data breach

The organizing committee for the Tokyo Olympic Games was hit with a data breach towards the end of last week. Although the exact causes and extent of the breach are still being determined, sources have said it was likely due to a 'malware infestation'. The data breach saw personal information relating to 170 security officials, all of whom, ironically, were involved in a drill that was geared towards preparing staff for cyber-attacks during the event. Japan's national cybersecurity center was

New York's 'Excelsior Pass' downloaded by 1.1 million people

New York's 'Excelsior Pass' – a vaccine passport – has been downloaded by 1.1 million people in The Empire State, state authorities recently revealed. The mass uptake mirrors that of various other vaccine passport schemes around the world, which have been marred with privacy concerns from the word "Go". The Excelsior Pass is a simple QR code that indicates the pass holder's vaccine status and can be downloaded onto either a smartphone or a computer. Around 9 million New Yorkers (or around 57%
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