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Company Forcing Drone Owners to Share Data or Lose Functionality

Drones are quickly gaining popularity amongst hobbyists and consumers across the globe. A technology that was once reserved for military applications, today’s aerial drones, which are often equipped with high-definition cameras and a basic amount of internal data storage, are now used to survey construction sites and monitor traffic conditions. Some retailers are even playing with the idea of using drones to delivery products directly to your door. Others simply fly their drones for fun and recreation.

Since it is a relatively new technology, there aren’t many drone manufacturers in existence. To make matters worse, one of the largest manufacturers, DJI, is threatening to block some of the functionality seen in their current drones if users don’t follow through with their new activation process, which involves submitting personal information and creating a unique user profile.

Registration is just the first step. Users will also have to login to their profile each time they use the device. This gives DJI the ability to monitor your geographical location as well as that of your aerial drone.

While some think that the company is vastly overstepping their boundaries, DJI insists the registration process will help ensure compliance with local regulations and guidelines regardless of where you live. Since DJI’s machines are sold all around the world, this could actually help their customers avoid costly fines and, in some cases, jail time for breaking a law that they didn’t even know existed.

All drone users in the United Kingdom, for instance, must abide by the guidelines in the Air Navigation Order 2016. Operators in the United States are subject to the rules of the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA. The FAA is also considering mandatory drone registration, but they have yet to do so. U.S.-based drone operators are still encouraged to register their drones and expected to follow the rules.

DJI posted a statement reading, in part: “The principal purpose of this update is to provide better support for our customers to adhere to the drone regulations of the jurisdiction in which they are flying, enhancing their flying experience and increasing flight safety. DJI has taken this step to help operators deal with the differing regulations emerging across various countries and regions, and to allow us to provide up-to-date safety information in any jurisdiction, both now and in the future.”

To help their customers as much as possible, DJI has dedicated a portion of their website to drone safety. They provide a list of established no fly zones as well links to the various regulatory agencies around the world. While this isn’t mean to be an all-inclusive resource, it provides a great starting point for any drone enthusiast.

While many consumers are interested in drone technology, there are some considerations that need to be made before investing in aerial hardware such as this. Local regulations and registration requirements introduce a number of roadblocks on the path to drone ownership, but it’s still very possible to purchase – and use – an aerial drone of your own.

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