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Mapped: Drone Privacy Laws Around the World

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Mapped: Drone Privacy Laws Around the World

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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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Technology

Which Streaming Service Has the Most Subscriptions?

From Netflix and Disney+ to Spotify and Apple Music, we rank the streaming services with the most monthly paid subscriptions.

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Streaming Service Subscriptions 2020 - Share

Which Streaming Service Has The Most Subscriptions?

Many companies have launched a streaming service over the past few years, trying to capitalize on the digital media shift and launching the so-called “streaming wars.”

After Netflix grew from a small DVD-rental company to a household name, every media company from Disney to Apple saw recurring revenues ripe for the taking. Likewise, the audio industry has long-since accepted Spotify’s rise to prominence, as streaming has become the de facto method of consumption for many.

But it was actually the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic that solidified the foothold of digital streaming, with subscription services seeing massive growth over the last year. Although it was expected that many new services would flounder along the way, media subscription services saw wide scale growth and adoption almost across the board.

We’ve taken the video, audio, and news subscription services with 5+ million subscribers to see who came out on top—and who has grown the most quickly—over the past year. Data comes from the FIPP media association as well as individual company reports.

Streaming Service Giants: Netflix and Amazon

The top of the streaming giant pantheon highlights two staples of business: the first-mover advantage and the power of conglomeration.

With 200+ million global subscribers, Netflix has capitalized on its position as the first and primary name in digital video streaming. Though its consumer base in the Americas has begun to plateau, the company’s growth in reach (190+ countries) and content (70+ original movies slated for 2021) has put it more than 50 million subscribers ahead of its closest competition.

The story is the same in the audio market, where Spotify’s 144 million subscriber base is more than double that of Apple Music, the next closest competitor with 68 million subscribers.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s position as the second most popular video streaming service with 150 million subscribers might be surprising. However, Prime Video subscriptions are included with membership to Amazon Prime, which saw massive growth in usage during the pandemic.

ServiceTypeSubscribers (Q4 2020)
NetflixVideo203.7M
Amazon Prime VideoVideo150.0M
SpotifyAudio144.0M
Tencent VideoVideo120.0M
iQIYIVideo119.0M
Disney+Video94.9M
YoukuVideo90.0M
Apple MusicAudio68.0M
Amazon Prime MusicAudio55.0M
Tencent Music (Group)Audio51.7M
ViuVideo41.4M
Alt BalajiVideo40M
HuluVideo38.8M
Eros NowVideo36.2M
Sirius XmAudio34.4M
YouTube PremiumVideo/Audio30M
Disney+ HotstarVideo18.5M
Paramount+Video17.9M
HBO MaxVideo17.2M
Starz/StarzPlay/PantayaVideo13.7M
ESPN+Video11.5M
Apple TV+Video10M
DAZNVideo8M
DeezerAudio7M
PandoraAudio6.3M
New York TimesNews6.1M

Another standout is the number of large streaming services based in Asia. China-based Tencent Video (also known as WeTV) and Baidu’s iQIYI streaming services both crossed 100 million paid subscribers, with Alibaba’s Youku not far behind with 90 million.

Disney Leads in Streaming Growth

But perhaps most notable of all is Disney’s rapid ascension to the upper echelons of streaming service giants.

Despite Disney+ launching in late 2019 with a somewhat lackluster content library (only one original series with one episode at launch), it has quickly rocketed both in terms of content and its subscriber base. With almost 95 million subscribers, it has amassed more subscribers in just over one year than Disney expected it could reach by 2024.

ServiceTypePercentage Growth (2019)
Disney+VideoNew
Apple TV+VideoNew
Disney+ HotstarVideo516.7%
ESPN+Video475.0%
Starz/StarzPlay/PantayaVideo211.4%
Paramount+Video123.8%
HBO MaxVideo115.0%
Amazon Prime VideoVideo100.0%
Alt BalajiVideo100.0%
YouTube PremiumVideo/Audio100.0%
DAZNVideo100.0%
Eros NowVideo92.6%
Amazon Prime MusicAudio71.9%
Tencent Music (Group)Audio66.8%
New York TimesNews60.5%
SpotifyAudio44.0%
HuluVideo38.6%
ViuVideo38.0%
NetflixVideo34.4%
Tencent VideoVideo27.7%
iQiyiVideo19.0%
Sirius XmAudio17.4%
Apple MusicAudio13.3%
YoukuVideo9.6%
PandoraAudio1.6%
DeezerAudio0%

The Disney+ wave also spurred growth in partner streaming services like Hotstar and ESPN+, while other services with smaller subscriber bases saw large growth rates thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lingering question is how the landscape will look when the pandemic starts to wind down, and when all the new players are accounted for. NBCUniversal’s Peacock, for example, has reached over 30 million subscribers as of January 2021, but the company hasn’t yet disclosed how many are paid subscribers.

Likewise, competitors are investing in content libraries to try and make up ground on Netflix and Disney. HBO Max is slated to start launching internationally in June 2021, and ViacomCBS rebranded and expanded CBS All Access into Paramount+.

And international growth is vital. Three of the top six video streaming services by subscribers are based in China, while Indian services Hotstar, ALTBalaji, and Eros Now all saw surges in subscriber bases, with more room left to grow.

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How Do Esports Companies Compare with Sports Teams?

With some esports companies more valuable than traditional sports teams, we visualize esports vs sports in franchise value.

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Esports Companies VS Sports - Share

How Do Esports Companies Compare with Sports Teams?

Are esports on the same level as “real” sports? These comparisons range from tricky to subjective, but the monetary value of companies speak for themselves.

The world’s largest esports companies have definitely risen to the occasion. Valued at almost half-a-billion dollars, they’ve started to pass some sports franchises in value.

In the above graphic, we compare Forbes’ valuation of the top 10 esports companies in 2020 against median franchises in the “Big Four” major leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL). Despite competitive gaming’s rapid growth, there’s still a long way left to go.

Esports Impress but NFL Teams Reign Supreme

The world’s top esports companies have grown quickly, and impressively.

As of 2018, there was only one esports company worth more than $300 million in valuation. By 2020, four of the top 10 were valued at more than $300 million.

Esports CompanyGames with FranchisesValue (2020)
TSMLeague of Legends$410M
Cloud9League of Legends, Overwatch$350M
Team LiquidLeague of Legends$310M
FaZe ClanCall of Duty$305M
100 ThievesLeague of Legends, Call of Duty$190M
Gen.GLeague of Legends, Overwatch, NBA 2K$185M
Enthusiast GamingCall of Duty, Overwatch$180M
G2 EsportsLeague of Legends$175M
NRG EsportsCall of Duty, Overwatch$155M
T1League of Legends$150M

When compared to traditional sports valuations, esports companies have already reached major league hockey status.

TSM, the world’s most valuable esports company in 2020, has a higher valuation than five NHL franchises. In fact, four esports companies were estimated to be more valuable than two NHL franchises, the Florida Panthers and Arizona Coyotes.

But other sports leagues are further away. While the median value of an NHL franchise in 2020 was $520 million, the MLB, NBA, and NFL all saw median values of over $1.6 billion.

Esports vs. Sports FranchisesLowest Valued TeamHighest Valued TeamMedian
NFL$2.0B$5.7B$3.0B
NBA$1.3B$4.6B$1.8B
MLB$980M$5.0B$1.6B
NHL$285M$1.6B$520M
Esports (Top 10)$150M$410M$188M

Differences in Esports vs Sports Structures and Growth

Try as we might to make a clean apples-to-apples comparison between esports and traditional sports teams, there are significant differences in the business models to consider.

For starters, major esports companies own multiple franchises and non-franchise teams across many games. Cloud9 owns both the eponymous Cloud9 League of Legends franchise and the London Spitfire Overwatch franchise, for example, as well as non-franchise teams in Halo, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Fortnite, and other games.

The revenue streams for esports companies are also extremely varied. Companies like TSM, 100 Thieves, FaZe Clan and Enthusiast Gaming made 50% or more of their revenue from outside of esports, having instead expanded into diverse companies with an equal focus on content creation and apps.

But it’s this greater ability to diversify, and the still-increasing size of esports fandom, that continues to grow esports valuations. In fact, TSM’s estimated 2020 revenue of $45 million is less than half of the Arizona Coyotes’ estimated revenue of $95 million, despite a $100+ million valuation difference in favor of TSM.

That’s why the continued maturation of esports is only going to make traditional sports comparisons easier, and closer. Instead of having to pit companies against franchises, direct league-to-league comparisons will be possible, and the differences will likely shrink from billions to millions.

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