Can Drones Make a Society More Transparent?

Typically associated with destructive military campaigns, drones—the unarmed kind—are becoming an essential tool for civil society. From a bird’s-eye view, they are exposing the truth about everything from the size of demonstrations to the obscene wealth illegally hoarded by corrupt political elites.

As a watchdog of government activity and an investigative journalism center, our organization has used drones to offer Hungarians a new perspective—both literally and figuratively—on key narratives unfolding in their country.

Through drone footage, we’ve revealed the hidden assets of government politicians and pro-government oligarchs, including castles acquired by companies tied to the son-in-law of Hungary’s prime minister. Such concrete signs of personal enrichment—which, in many cases, can only be filmed from the air—give citizens a clear picture of the corruption and inequality that is all around them.

At the same time, drones are useful for throwing into relief the power of civil society. In 2014, we captured aerial footage of the protests against the government’s internet tax. More recently, we filmed refugees marching across Budapest—showing their tragic situation helped us counter government narratives about migrants being dangerous enemies or conquerers.

In each instance, using drones helped us calculate the number of people present, a task that has proven difficult even for the press. Other Hungarian journalists using camera drones to cover these events have faced police resistance on a number of occasions, although the laws around the usage of drones remain fuzzy.

As people increasingly turn to drones for a wide variety of purposes, it is important to set up a legal framework within which they can be operated. Authorities should consult with civil society organizations and journalists to jointly develop regulations, while taking into consideration the right to privacy, freedom of the press, and the importance of keeping the public informed.

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This is fascinating, and has important implications. (Subtitles for the Hungarian would be appreciated!)

Hi David, thank you for your comment! For the subtitles, you just need to activate them by clicking on little "CC" box on the lower right corner of the video and select "English".

The possibility of using drones for something positive is critical but it is important for citizens to be protected in all circumstances privacy laws and protection from government misuse of information collected. Citizens must be included developing guidelines and authorizations in which drones should be used to collect information for positive change in society for betterment of humanity.

The story of drones is very good and in particular cases as monitoring conflicts and cattle rustling ,floods and rescue advisory services and in guiding medical supplies and medical emergency interventions in partnership with governments .
It is welcome for the mapping and reporting true civilian view in an accurate and reliable and documentable data,
I also think in any suspicion of violence such as in Sudan,it can be used to monitor conflicts for eventual prosecution evidences.

When somebody live the war will pray the rest of the life for the peace I left with my family a few years ago to save ourselves four kids and very little money to Turkey no job no help only thing we had it's our hope to find a safe place to live two years it's like never-ending time two of my daughters need milk and diapers and the rest of the family need the food but we survived after we the USA government accept us as refugee we very thankful for that .at this time I wish there's any way to help or do something good for the refugee but I'm still suffering from the war it's 5 years but like thousands of years. I need long time to talk about this time have depression I'm trying to make myself busy to avoid thinking about my past but I'm at least trying to be normal.

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