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​DJI: Register your drone on our site, or we'll throttle it

The China-based drone leader announces it's requiring users to activate the latest firmware, even if the feds don't make you.

This DJI drone will impress, but only if you register it via the company's site.
Dave Cheng/CNET

Last week we learned that the FAA's drone registration system for hobbyists may not be legal. But Chinese drone maker DJI is making sure you register anyway.

The drone market leader on Monday said it's introducing a new online "application activation process" for international users that takes effect at the end of next week. The system ensures "you will use the correct set of geospatial information and flight functions for your aircraft."

In other words, if you don't activate your drone through the website, DJI will cripple your drone. Camera streaming will be disabled and flight range will be curtailed to a 164-foot radius, up to 98 feet high.

DJI's move is an example of the soaring new industry regulating itself, just as the FAA's 2-year-old registration system for hobbyists encounters some turbulence. Drone sales, meanwhile, have more than doubled in the past year.