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What is Big Tech Contributing to Help Fight COVID-19?

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Big Tech COVID19 Financial Efforts

What is Big Tech Contributing to Fight COVID-19?

In the ongoing global crusade against COVID-19, everyone has a part to play. As the situation intensifies, the private sector has also been rallying to help governments and healthcare organizations cope with the situation, and U.S. tech companies are no exception.

With a combined market capitalization of over $4.7 trillion, the “FAAMG” Five—Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Alphabet (Google)—wield immense influence on the economy, as well as the potential to impact lives during this challenging time.

The Biggest Moves by Big Tech

In today’s data visualization, we look at the financial contributions being made by Big Tech giants in response to the pandemic. The main categories that these actions fall into are:

  • Small businesses: Grants and ad credits
  • Media/News: Fact-checking and grants for local news
  • Healthcare: COVID-19 research and frontline support
  • Relief Efforts: Public safety and non-profit donations

What is each company pledging in financial efforts to relieve the strain on those affected most by the ongoing crisis?

Alphabet (Google)

Many people rely on Google to find reliable news and resources during the pandemic. Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has focused its financial support towards small businesses and healthcare researchers, mainly through offering millions of dollars in advertising credits.

CategoryAmountDetails
Small Businesses$340MGoogle ad credits for small businesses
$200MInvestment fund for NGOs and financial institutions to help small businesses
$20MAd credits for NGOs and financial institutions to help small businesses
$15MCash grants to non-profits to help small businesses
Media/News$6.5MFunding offered to Google News Initiative to support media outlets and fact-checkers
Healthcare$250MAd grants for WHO and 100+ global government agencies
$20MGoogle Cloud credits for researchers and academic institutions
Relief Efforts$5MDonations matched for COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, co-created by the UN Foundation and the WHO
Total: $856.5M

Google has also promised to ramp up the production of 3 million masks for the CDC Foundation. In addition, Google has partnered with Apple to create a secure and private contact-tracing tool to aid public health authorities.

Facebook

Facebook is another massive platform through which information—and misinformation—spreads quickly and easily. Especially in times of crisis, the spread of poorly-vetted information can have a severe impact on our health and well-being.

To try and combat this, the company is allocating funds towards fact-checking, as well as supporting local media outlets.

CategoryAmountDetails
Small Businesses$100MSmall Business Grants Program, for up to 30,000 businesses in over 30 countries
Media/News$75MMarketing to help publishers worldwide with declining ad revenues
$25MFacebook Journalism Project towards emergency grant funding for local news
$2MGrants and donations to fact-checking organizations e.g. International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN)
$1MGrants for local news
Healthcare$25MSupport for front line healthcare workers
Relief Efforts$10MDonations matched to the CDC Foundation
$10MDonations matched for COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, co-created by the UN Foundation and the WHO
Total:$248M

Facebook and Alphabet will together match up to $15 million in donations to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, which has raised over $127 million to date.

Amazon

During this unprecedented era of social distancing and lockdowns, the online retailer has become almost indispensable as ecommerce shoots up. Amazon has several initiatives on the go, including help to Seattle businesses and citizens, where its operations all started.

CategoryAmountDetails
Small Businesses$5.5MNeighborhood Small Business Relief Fund for over 400 Seattle small businesses
$1MCOVID-19 Response Fund, providing rapid-response grants to local businesses and vulnerable communities
Healthcare$20MAmazon Web Services (AWS) Diagnostic Development Initiative to speed up COVID-19 research
Relief Efforts$30M£24.5M (US$30M) provided to European non-profit and Red Cross organizations
$25MAmazon Relief Fund, dedicated to support independent delivery service partners and drivers
$10MAmazon Literary Partnership, an emergency initiative for artists and writers
$5MTotal donated in devices globally for healthcare workers and education efforts
$1MDonations matched to the non-profit Mary's Place
$1MTowards emergency response efforts in Washington, D.C.
Total:$72M

In addition, Amazon donated 800 laptops to public schools in the Seattle area, and has raised workers’ hourly and overtime pay. In early April, CEO Jeff Bezos also donated $100 million to Feeding America, a non-profit food bank.

Microsoft

Technology is playing an immense role in tracking COVID-19 and the progress we’re making to end it. As a result, Microsoft is directing its financial efforts towards its AI for Health program.

CategoryAmountDetails
Healthcare$20MAI for Health initiative commitment to focus on front-lines of research
China-specific Relief$6.5M¥46M (US$6.5M) donated in cash and tech support for China’s fight against the virus
Relief Efforts$1MCOVID-19 Response Fund, providing rapid-response grants to local businesses and vulnerable communities
Total:$27.5M

On top of these, Bill Gates officially stepped off the board of Microsoft in mid-March to focus on philanthropic efforts. The Gates Foundation has poured $100 million into funding for coronavirus research, and plans to pump billions more dollars into research in the coming weeks, to speed up vaccine development and manufacturing.

Apple

Finally, Apple is putting all its donations towards supporting public relief efforts, both in China and other affected parts of the world.

CategoryAmountDetails
Relief Efforts$15MDonations committed to global response efforts
China-specific Relief$7M¥50M (US$7M) donated to China’s long-term public health recovery efforts
Total:$22M

Further, Apple has donated 20 million masks to health workers, and aims to manufacture 1 million face shields per week.

Together, Microsoft and Apple contributed $2 million to the Seattle-based COVID-19 Response Fund, which has racked up $15.7 million in total donations to-date.

How the $1.25B Breaks Down

Looking at the information another way, how much money is flowing towards the various contribution categories?

Small businesses are the biggest beneficiaries of Big Tech’s economic relief, and understandably so—they are one of the most affected entities in the crisis. Healthcare research is also getting a boost, with funds focused on advancing potential treatments and vaccines in the pipeline, and supporting healthcare workers in the trenches of the pandemic.

CategoryCompany BreakdownTotal Amount
Small BusinessAlphabet: $575M
Facebook: $100M
Amazon: $6.5M
$681.5M
Media/ NewsFacebook: $103M
Alphabet: $6.5M
$109.5M
HealthcareAlphabet: $270M
Facebook: $25M
Microsoft: $20M
Amazon: $20M
$335M
Relief EffortsAmazon: $72M
Facebook: $20M
Apple: $15M
Alphabet: $5M
Microsoft: $1M
$113M
China-specific ReliefApple: $7M
Microsoft: $6.5M
$13.5M
Total:$1,252.5M

As a majority of work and socializing migrates online, Big Tech has the most to benefit from the current situation. Their positive efforts to lend a helping hand may well be a strategy for uplifting their poor reputation in the media—but is it enough?

Some might argue that for these Big Tech companies, $1.25 billion is just a drop in the bucket. In fact, other Silicon Valley players are single-handedly matching these contributions, such as Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey who pledged $1 billion of his own equity towards relief efforts and education.

However, that’s also not to imply that these financial efforts are the only actions taken by the five companies in question. Many of them are building critical educational and data-driven technological solutions to help mitigate the COVID-19 situation as it unfolds.

It also goes without saying that the applications they’ve created are helping us remain connected and supported—making life in lockdown a little bit easier.

All data as of Apr 12, 2020. Many thanks to our community who sent in requests for this content.

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Technology

The World’s Top Car Manufacturers by Market Capitalization

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The World’s Top Car Manufacturers by Market Cap

View the high-resolution of the infographic by clicking here.

Ever since Apple and other Big Tech companies hit a market capitalization of $1 trillion, many sectors are revving to follow suit—including the automotive industry.

But among those car brands racing to reach this total valuation, some are closer to the finish line than others. This visualization uses data from Yahoo Finance to rank the world’s top car manufacturers by market capitalization.

What could this spell for the future of the automotive industry?

A special hat-tip to Brandon Knoblauch for compiling the original, regularly-updated spreadsheet.

The World’s Top Car Manufacturers

It’s clear one company is pulling far ahead of the pack. In the competition to clinch this coveted title, Tesla is the undoubted favorite so far.

The electric vehicle (EV) and clean energy company first became the world’s most valuable car manufacturer in June 2020, and shows no signs of slowing its trajectory.

RankCompanyMarket Cap (US$B)Country
#1Tesla$795.8🇺🇸 U.S.
#2Toyota$207.5🇯🇵 Japan
#3Volkswagen$96.7🇩🇪 Germany
#4BYD$92.7🇨🇳 China
#5NIO$89.5🇨🇳 China
#6Daimler$72.8🇩🇪 Germany
#7General Motors$71.3🇺🇸 U.S.
#8BMW$54.2🇩🇪 Germany
#9Stellantis$54.2🇳🇱 Netherlands
#10Ferrari$52.5🇮🇹 Italy
#11Honda$46.9🇯🇵 Japan
#12Hyundai$46.8🇰🇷 South Korea
#13SAIC$45.2🇨🇳 China
#14Geely$39.5🇨🇳 China
#15Ford$39.4🇺🇸 U.S.
#16Xpeng$33.9🇨🇳 China
#17Maruti Suzuki$33.1🇮🇳 India
#18Li Auto$29.5🇨🇳 China
#19Suzuki$23.7🇯🇵 Japan
#20Nissan$20.1🇯🇵 Japan
#21Subaru$15.2🇯🇵 Japan
#22Changan$14.6🇨🇳 China
#23Mahindra$13.9🇮🇳 India
#24Renault$12.0🇫🇷 France

All data as of January 15, 2021 (9:30AM PST)

Tesla’s competitive advantage comes as a result of its dedicated emphasis on research and development (R&D). In fact, many of its rivals have admitted that Tesla’s electronics far surpass their own—a teardown revealed that its batteries and AI chips are roughly six years ahead of other industry giants such as Toyota and Volkswagen.

The Green Revolution is Underway

The sheer growth of Tesla may spell the inevitability of a green revolution in the industry. Already, many major brands have followed in the company’s tracks, announcing their own ambitious plans to add more EVs to their vehicle line-ups.

Here’s how a selection of car manufacturers are embracing the electric future:

Toyota: Ranked #2

The second-most valuable car manufacturer in the world, Toyota is steadily ramping up its EV output. In 2020, it produced 10,000 EVs and plans to increase this to 30,000 in 2021.

Through this gradual increase, the company hopes to hit an expected target of 500,000 EVs by 2025. Toyota also aims to debut 10 new models internationally to achieve this goal.

Volkswagen: Ranked #3

By 2025, Volkswagen plans to invest $86 billion into digital and EV technologies. Considering the car manufacturer generates the most gross revenue per second of all automakers, it’s no wonder Volkswagen is looking to the future in order to keep such numbers up.

The company is also well-positioned to ride the wave of a potential consumer shift towards EVs in Europe. In response to the region’s strict emissions targets, Volkswagen upped its planned sales proportions for European hybrid and EV sales from 40% to 60% by 2030.

BYD and Nio: Ranked #4-5

China jumped on the electric bandwagon early. Eager to make its mark as a global leader in the emerging technology of lithium ion batteries (an essential component of any EV), the Chinese government handed out billions of dollars in subsidies—fueling the growths of domestic car manufacturers BYD and Nio alike.

BYD gained the interest and attention of its billionaire backer Warren Buffett, while Nio is China’s response to Tesla and an attempt to capture the EV market locally.

General Motors: Ranked #7

Also with a 2025 target year in mind, General Motors is investing $27 billion into electric and fully autonomous vehicles. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, too—the company also hopes to launch 30 new fully electric vehicles by the same year.

One particular factor is giving GM confidence: its new EV battery creations. They will be able to extend the range of its new EVs to 400 miles (644km) on a single charge, at a rate that rivals Tesla’s Model S.

Stellantis: Ranked #9

In a long-anticipated move, Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot S.A. finalized their merger into Stellantis N.V. on January 16, 2021.

With the combined forces and funds of a $52 billion deal, the new Dutch-based car manufacturer hopes to rival bigger brands and race even more quickly towards the electric shift.

Honda: Ranked #11

Speaking of fast-paced races, Honda has decided to bow out of future Formula One (F1) World Championships. As these competitions were usually a way for the company to show off its engineering prowess, the move was a surprising one.

However, there’s a noble reason behind this decision. Honda is choosing instead to focus on its commitment to become carbon neutral by 2050. To do so, it’ll be shifting its financial resources away from F1 and towards R&D into fuel cell vehicle (FCV) and battery EV (BEV) technologies.

Ford: Ranked #15

Ford knows exactly what its fans want. In that regard, its electrification plans begin with its most popular commercial cars, such as the Mustang Mach-E SUV. This is Ford’s major strategy for attracting new EV buyers, part of a larger $11.5 billion investment agenda into EVs through 2022.

While the car’s specs compare to Tesla’s Model Y, its engineers also drew from the iPhone and Netflix to incorporate an infotainment system and driver profiles to create a truly tech-first specimen.

Speeding into the Horizon

As more and more companies enter the racetrack, EV innovation across the entire industry may power the move to lower overall costs, extend the total range of vehicles, and put any other concerns by potential buyers to rest.

While Tesla is currently in the best position to become the first car manufacturer to reach the $1 trillion milestone, how long will it be for the others to catch up?

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Mapped: Drone Privacy Laws Around the World

By 2025, the global commercial drone market could reach $42.8 billion. With such diverse uses, how do countries navigate drone privacy laws?

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Mapped: Drone Privacy Laws Around the World

View the high-resolution of the infographic by clicking here.

From Olympic opening ceremonies to public safety, drone applications have come a long way.

In fact, their modern applications are set to almost double the total value of the commercial drone market from $22.5 billion to $42.8 billion between 2020-2025, at a 13.8% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

Naturally, such diverse and complex uses can go quickly awry if not monitored and regulated correctly by governments—yet in some cases, it’s because of governments that drones’ uses border on sinister.

This in-depth map from Surfshark explores the murky guidelines surrounding drone privacy laws around the world, and some case studies of how they’re used in every region.

How Are Drone Privacy Laws Classified?

According to the map researchers, drone and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) regulations typically fall into one of the following buckets:

  1. Outright ban
  2. Effective ban
  3. Visual line of sight required
    Pilots need to be able to see the drones at all times, and must usually obtain a license or permit
  4. Experimental visual line of sight
    Pilots can let the drone fly outside their field of vision e.g. during a race
  5. Restrictions apply
    Drones need to be registered, and/or additional observers are required
  6. Unrestricted
    When drones are flown around private property and airports, and under 500 feet (150 meters)
  7. No drone-related legislation

Categories are assigned based on legislation as of October 2020.

Clearly, there is some overlap among these categories. They are highly dependent on judgment calls made by specific legal authorities, and change based on what a drone is being used for.

Explore the drone privacy laws in your specific country here:

Country/TerritoryContinentDrone Legal Status (Oct. 2020)
AfghanistanAsiaUnrestricted
AlbaniaEuropeNo drone-related legislation
AlgeriaAfricaOutright ban
AndorraEuropeVisual line of sight required
AngolaAfricaNo drone-related legislation
Antigua and BarbudaNorth AmericaExperimental visual line of sight
ArgentinaSouth AmericaUnrestricted
ArmeniaEuropeNo drone-related legislation
ArubaNorth AmericaVisual line of sight required
AustraliaOceaniaExperimental visual line of sight
AustriaEuropeUnrestricted
AzerbaijanEuropeVisual line of sight required
Bahamas, TheNorth AmericaUnrestricted
BahrainAsiaNo drone-related legislation
BangladeshAsiaUnrestricted
BarbadosNorth AmericaOutright ban
BelarusEuropeNo drone-related legislation
BelgiumEuropeVisual line of sight required
BelizeNorth AmericaEffective ban
BeninAfricaNo drone-related legislation
BermudaNorth AmericaVisual line of sight required
BhutanAsiaEffective ban
BoliviaSouth AmericaNo drone-related legislation
Bosnia and HerzegovinaEuropeNo drone-related legislation
BotswanaAfricaVisual line of sight required
BrazilSouth AmericaVisual line of sight required
Brunei DarussalamAsiaOutright ban
BulgariaEuropeEffective ban
Burkina FasoAfricaNo drone-related legislation
BurundiAfricaNo drone-related legislation
Cabo VerdeAfricaVisual line of sight required
CambodiaAsiaNo drone-related legislation
CameroonAfricaVisual line of sight required
CanadaNorth AmericaExperimental visual line of sight
Cayman IslandsNorth AmericaExperimental visual line of sight
Central African RepublicAfricaNo drone-related legislation
ChadAfricaUnrestricted
ChileSouth AmericaVisual line of sight required
ChinaAsiaExperimental visual line of sight
ColombiaSouth AmericaVisual line of sight required
ComorosAfricaNo drone-related legislation
Congo, Dem. Rep.AfricaNo drone-related legislation
Congo, Rep.AfricaNo drone-related legislation
Costa RicaNorth AmericaVisual line of sight required
Cote d'IvoireAfricaOutright ban
CroatiaEuropeVisual line of sight required
CubaNorth AmericaOutright ban
CuracaoNorth AmericaVisual line of sight required
CyprusEuropeVisual line of sight required
Czech RepublicEuropeExperimental visual line of sight
DenmarkEuropeExperimental visual line of sight
DjiboutiAfricaNo drone-related legislation
DominicaNorth AmericaNo drone-related legislation
Dominican RepublicNorth AmericaVisual line of sight required
EcuadorSouth AmericaVisual line of sight required
Egypt, Arab Rep.AfricaEffective ban
El SalvadorNorth AmericaNo drone-related legislation
Equatorial GuineaAfricaNo drone-related legislation
EritreaAfricaNo drone-related legislation
EstoniaEuropeUnrestricted
EthiopiaAfricaNo drone-related legislation
Faroe IslandsEuropeUnrestricted
FijiOceaniaVisual line of sight required
FinlandEuropeExperimental visual line of sight
FranceEuropeExperimental visual line of sight
GabonAfricaNo drone-related legislation
Gambia, TheAfricaNo drone-related legislation
GeorgiaEuropeVisual line of sight required
GermanyEuropeExperimental visual line of sight
GhanaAfricaExperimental visual line of sight
GibraltarEuropeEffective ban
GreeceEuropeUnrestricted
GreenlandNorth AmericaVisual line of sight required
GrenadaNorth AmericaNo drone-related legislation
GuamOceaniaUnrestricted
GuatemalaNorth AmericaNo drone-related legislation
GuineaAfricaNo drone-related legislation
Guinea-BissauAfricaNo drone-related legislation
GuyanaSouth AmericaExperimental visual line of sight
HaitiNorth AmericaNo drone-related legislation
HondurasNorth AmericaNo drone-related legislation
Hong Kong SAR, ChinaAsiaVisual line of sight required
HungaryEuropeUnrestricted
IcelandEuropeVisual line of sight required
IndiaAsiaVisual line of sight required
IndonesiaAsiaVisual line of sight required
Iran, Islamic Rep.AsiaOutright ban
IraqAsiaOutright ban
IrelandEuropeExperimental visual line of sight
IsraelAsiaVisual line of sight required
ItalyEuropeVisual line of sight required
JamaicaNorth AmericaVisual line of sight required
JapanAsiaExperimental visual line of sight
JordanAsiaUnrestricted
KazakhstanEuropeNo drone-related legislation
KenyaAfricaEffective ban
KiribatiOceaniaNo drone-related legislation
Korea, Dem. People’s Rep.AsiaNo drone-related legislation
Korea, Rep.AsiaVisual line of sight required
KosovoEuropeVisual line of sight required
KuwaitAsiaOutright ban
Kyrgyz RepublicAsiaOutright ban
Lao PDRAsiaUnrestricted
LatviaEuropeUnrestricted
LebanonAsiaNo drone-related legislation
LesothoAfricaNo drone-related legislation
LiberiaAfricaNo drone-related legislation
LibyaAfricaNo drone-related legislation
LiechtensteinEuropeExperimental visual line of sight
LithuaniaEuropeVisual line of sight required
LuxembourgEuropeVisual line of sight required
Macao SAR, ChinaAsiaVisual line of sight required
MadagascarAfricaOutright ban
MalawiAfricaVisual line of sight required
MalaysiaAsiaEffective ban
MaldivesAsiaEffective ban
MaliAfricaNo drone-related legislation
MaltaEuropeUnrestricted
Marshall IslandsOceaniaNo drone-related legislation
MauritaniaAfricaNo drone-related legislation
MauritiusAfricaVisual line of sight required
MexicoNorth AmericaVisual line of sight required
Micronesia, Fed. Sts.OceaniaNo drone-related legislation
MoldovaEuropeNo drone-related legislation
MonacoEuropeUnrestricted
MongoliaAsiaNo drone-related legislation
MontenegroEuropeVisual line of sight required
MoroccoAfricaOutright ban
MozambiqueAfricaNo drone-related legislation
MyanmarAsiaEffective ban
NamibiaAfricaVisual line of sight required
NauruOceaniaNo drone-related legislation
NepalAsiaVisual line of sight required
NetherlandsEuropeVisual line of sight required
New CaledoniaOceaniaNo drone-related legislation
New ZealandOceaniaExperimental visual line of sight
NicaraguaNorth AmericaOutright ban
NigerAfricaNo drone-related legislation
NigeriaAfricaEffective ban
North MacedoniaEuropeVisual line of sight required
NorwayEuropeVisual line of sight required
OmanAsiaEffective ban
PakistanAsiaNo drone-related legislation
PalauOceaniaNo drone-related legislation
PanamaNorth AmericaUnrestricted
Papua New GuineaOceaniaVisual line of sight required
ParaguaySouth AmericaNo drone-related legislation
PeruSouth AmericaVisual line of sight required
PhilippinesAsiaVisual line of sight required
PolandEuropeExperimental visual line of sight
PortugalEuropeExperimental visual line of sight
Puerto RicoNorth AmericaExperimental visual line of sight
QatarAsiaUnrestricted
RomaniaEuropeVisual line of sight required
Russian FederationEuropeExperimental visual line of sight
RwandaAfricaExperimental visual line of sight
SamoaOceaniaNo drone-related legislation
San MarinoEuropeNo drone-related legislation
Sao Tome and PrincipeAfricaNo drone-related legislation
Saudi ArabiaAsiaExperimental visual line of sight
SenegalAfricaOutright ban
SerbiaEuropeUnrestricted
SeychellesAfricaVisual line of sight required
Sierra LeoneAfricaNo drone-related legislation
SingaporeAsiaExperimental visual line of sight
Sint Maarten (Dutch part)North AmericaExperimental visual line of sight
Slovak RepublicEuropeVisual line of sight required
SloveniaEuropeOutright ban
Solomon IslandsOceaniaVisual line of sight required
SomaliaAfricaNo drone-related legislation
South AfricaAfricaExperimental visual line of sight
South SudanAfricaNo drone-related legislation
SpainEuropeExperimental visual line of sight
Sri LankaAsiaExperimental visual line of sight
St. Kitts and NevisNorth AmericaNo drone-related legislation
St. LuciaNorth AmericaUnrestricted
St. Martin (French part)North AmericaExperimental visual line of sight
St. Vincent and the GrenadinesNorth AmericaNo drone-related legislation
SudanAfricaNo drone-related legislation
SurinameSouth AmericaNo drone-related legislation
SwazilandAfricaVisual line of sight required
SwedenEuropeUnrestricted
SwitzerlandEuropeUnrestricted
Syrian Arab RepublicAsiaOutright ban
TaiwanAsiaVisual line of sight required
TajikistanAsiaNo drone-related legislation
TanzaniaAfricaVisual line of sight required
ThailandAsiaVisual line of sight required
Timor-LesteAsiaNo drone-related legislation
TogoAfricaNo drone-related legislation
TongaOceaniaNo drone-related legislation
Trinidad and TobagoNorth AmericaExperimental visual line of sight
TunisiaAfricaNo drone-related legislation
TurkeyEuropeUnrestricted
TurkmenistanAsiaNo drone-related legislation
Turks and Caicos IslandsNorth AmericaUnrestricted
TuvaluOceaniaNo drone-related legislation
UgandaAfricaExperimental visual line of sight
UkraineEuropeVisual line of sight required
United Arab EmiratesAsiaVisual line of sight required
United KingdomEuropeExperimental visual line of sight
United StatesNorth AmericaExperimental visual line of sight
UruguaySouth AmericaVisual line of sight required
UzbekistanAsiaOutright ban
VanuatuOceaniaVisual line of sight required
Venezuela, RBSouth AmericaUnrestricted
VietnamAsiaUnrestricted
Yemen, Rep.AsiaNo drone-related legislation
ZambiaAfricaVisual line of sight required
ZimbabweAfricaExperimental visual line of sight

So How Are Drones Used Worldwide?

The myriad of drone uses are literally and metaphorically up in the air—while they originated in military needs, drone uses now range from hobbies such as aerial photography to supporting disaster relief.

The following regional maps show privacy laws in closer detail, while also highlighting interesting case studies on how drones are used.

North America

Drone Privacy Laws 820px North America
Click here for the high-resolution version of this graphic.

According to the latest drone numbers, 70.5% of registered U.S. drones are recreational, but these proportions may soon decline in favor of commercial uses. As of December 2020, civilian drones are allowed to fly over populated areas, a step towards fulfilling their potential in package delivery.

Meanwhile, countries like Mexico are beginning to rely on drones to combat crime, with good results. In the city of Ensenada, a single drone’s surveillance patrol resulted in a 10% drop in overall crime rates in 2018. Drones are increasingly being used to monitor illicit activity such as drug trafficking routes.

South America

Drone Privacy Laws 820px South America
Click here for the high-resolution version of this graphic.

Interestingly, the environmental applications of drones come into play in the Amazon rainforest. An indigenous tribe in Brazil is using drones to track levels of deforestation and forest fires—and presenting that data evidence to authorities to urge them to act.

Across the continent, drones are also in place to deliver everything from hospital supplies to life jackets in Chile and El Salvador.

Europe

Drone Privacy Laws 820px Europe
Click here for the high-resolution version of this graphic.

The first unmanned, radio-controlled aircraft test flight occurred in the United Kingdom in 1917. The Kettering Aerial Target (or “The Bug”) carried 180 pounds of explosives and became the basis for modern missiles.

While Europe has some of the most liberal drone privacy laws today, that doesn’t mean they’re lenient. Even among countries that allow experimental visual lines of sight (such as Finland and Portugal), special permissions are required.

Middle East and Central Asia

Drone Privacy Laws 820px Middle east and central asia
Click here for the high-resolution version of this graphic.

The military applications of drones persist in this region. Iran was one of the first to use armed drones and continues to do so, while simultaneously banning their public use.

Neighboring Turkey also relies on kamikaze drones, augmented by AI and facial recognition, to strengthen border security.

Rest of Asia and Oceania

Drone Privacy Laws 820px Rest of Asia Oceania
Click here for the high-resolution version of this graphic.

China-based DJI is the world’s largest drone manufacturer, dominating 70% of the global market. Across Asia, drones have been in use for mass surveillance, particularly in China. In recent times, drones also track compliance with strict COVID-19 guidelines in Malaysia and Singapore.

Meanwhile, in Japan, Nokia is testing out a drone network to provide a more rapid response to future natural disasters. The relief capabilities include disseminating more real-time updates and monitoring evacuation progress.

Africa

Drone Privacy Laws 820px Africa
Click here for the high-resolution version of this graphic.

While many parts of Africa haven’t developed any drone-related laws yet, promising innovation is rearing its head. Medical drones are already saving lives in Rwanda, delivering supplies in as little as 15 minutes.

In the same vein, the pioneer African Drone and Data Academy (ADDA) opened in Malawi. The academy promotes drone usage for humanitarian and disaster preparedness, and aims to equip individuals with the relevant skills.

Towards Greater Heights?

As the uses of drones evolve over time, so will their legal status and the privacy concerns surrounding them. However, the adoption of any technology is always accompanied by a certain level of skepticism.

With drones, it remains to be seen whether they’ll mostly occupy the role of a friend or a foe for years to come—and that power lies only in the hands of those who remotely control them.

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