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Feds: Nearly 300,000 drones now registered

Feds: Nearly 300,000 drones now registered
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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said Friday that nearly 300,000 drones have been registered thus far under new rules that require users to provide their information to the federal government and pay a fee to fly the devices. 

Transportation Secretary Anthony FoxxAnthony Renard FoxxGeorgia Power says electricity at Atlanta airport will likely be restored by midnight Ex-Obama transportation chief on Atlanta airport power outage: 'Total and abject failure' To address America's crumbling infrastructure, follow Britain's lead MORE said he is encouraged by the response to the drone registration rules, which were implemented by the Transportation Department last month after an increase in the number of reported drone sightings by commercial airline pilots.

"I am pleased the public responded to our call to register,” Foxx said in a statement. “The National Airspace System is a great resource and all users of it, including [Unmanned Aircraft Systems] users, are responsible for keeping it safe.”

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The Department of Transportation began requiring drone users to register their devices in a new Web-based tracking system that went online on Dec. 21, 2015. Existing drone users have until Feb. 19 to register their devices with the federal government. 

A total of 295,306 drones were registered.

The agency is imposing a $5 fee for drone registrations, over the objections of drone advocates, but the FAA said Friday that it provided refunds for the charge for people who registered their drones within the first 30 days of the new requirement.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said Friday that he is also pleased by the response to the drone registration requirement. 

“The registration numbers we’re seeing so far are very encouraging,” he said. “We’re working hard to build on this early momentum and ensure everyone understands the registration requirement.”

Drone users have complained about the fees, labeling them a "drone tax." A drone hobbyist in Silver Spring, Md., has sued the FAA over the rules, arguing the mandate violates a federal law prohibiting the FAA from regulating recreational drones.

The FAA has defended the legality of the system, saying the agency has the authority to regulate all "aircrafts" that are flown in the U.S. The agency has also said the drone registration fee is nominal.