There’s been a lot of press about the use of drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan over the last year. I have a feeling we don’t pay as much attention to reports about military and intelligence applications of unmanned aerial vehicles as much as we should because the news appears to focus on war-like conditions a very long way from here.

But what if those same drones were being used in your own back yard, targeting you and your family? Would you pay more attention?

What if they are already being used in such a fashion and you haven’t been paying attention?

Most of us aren’t too worried about the cop at the corner using his radar to check for speeding motorists. We probably don’t mind the beat cop patrolling our neighborhood from his car. But we’d probably mind if he showed up in our back yard without a warrant; we’d probably mind if he was peering into our house without any advance notice.

But it’s possible that UAVs are being used by law enforcement and other government entities, and we the public are having little if any conversation about the appropriate and legal use of these tools.

Here are just a few examples of UAVs which have been deployed from U.S. soil:

Solar drone stays aloft for record 7 days.

AR.Parrot Game — promoted as “first quadricopter controlled by iPhone and iPod Touch. (Video here.)

Drones a new sight over state’s coastline — NOAA launched drones to observe coastal oceanographic conditions.

Video of Houston Police secret aerial drones — KPRC-Houston reports on evaluation of drones by Houston Police.

Granted, these may represent exploratory efforts and not actual use for law enforcement. But at what point will the decision be made to use these systems over American soil on American citizens?

And then there’s this tidbit:

Drones to Become More Bird-like — says Wharton Aerospace Defense Report from UPenn.

Can you really be certain that the bird you saw flying over your home wasn’t a UAV watching you?