Next generation visa processing

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has revealed it will pour $72.3 million in 2018-19 into the next generation of visa processing technology. The announcement was made as part of the government’s mid-year economic and fiscal outlook. A “market-based service provider” will be selected by the DHA to deliver the visa processing system. Either Australia Post/Accenture or the Australian Visa Processing consortium (made up of PwC, Ellerston Capital, Qantas Ventures, NAN and Pacific Blue Capital) have been tipped to secure the contract. It is anticipated that 90% of all visa applications will be processed via the system when it is rolled out in 2021.

Google CEO testifies

Google boss Sundar Pichai has fronted up to the House Judiciary Committee to answer questions over data collection, privacy and bias. In scenes reminiscent of Mark Zuckerberg’s visit to Washington D.C. earlier this year, Pichai was accused of liberal biases in Google’s search algorithms, such as the fact images of US President Donald Trump appear when ‘idiot’ is typed into Google Images. Pichai responded “Any time you type in a keyword, as Google we have gone out and crawled and stored copies of billions of pages in our index. And we take the keyword and match it against their pages and rank them based on over 200 signals — things like relevance, freshness, popularity, how other people are using it”. The notion of free speech on YouTube (owned by Google) was also up for discussion, with Pichai encouraging “diverse perspectives and opinions” on the platform, warning however that content that violates policies will be removed. He also ended speculation about Google's China plans, stating the company has “no plans to launch Search in China”. Just days after the hearing, it was then revealed that the China-focused and censored 'Project Dragonly' had been shut down due to internal concerns.

Most searched

In more Google news, the search engine has released its ‘Year in Search’ for 2018. ‘World Cup’ was the most searched phrase globally, while Meghan Markle was the most searched person. Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’ was the most searched movie and Chinese drama ‘The Story of Yanxi Palace’ topped television shows. In Australia, the Royal Wedding was the most searched news story, followed by the Thai cave rescue and Wentworth byelection. ‘How to opt out of My Health Record’ led ‘How to’ phrase searches.

Vine creator dies

Tech executive Colin Kroll has died of a suspected overdose aged 34. Kroll co-founded the popular HQ Trivia app last year following the success of six-second video app Vine, which he also founded. He had also worked at Twitter for a period, after it bought Vine in 2012.