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Journalists have always let others do much of their legwork. A classic example: The ACLU did the serious reporting for today's New York Times Page 1 story on mobile phone surveillance.

Here's what the Times based its story on:
Bob Anzlovar's profile photoJames Salsman's profile photoCraig Nicol's profile photoLisa Ballard's profile photo
"While virtually all of the over 200 police departments that responded to our request said they track cell phones, only a tiny minority reported consistently obtaining a warrant and demonstrating probable cause to do so. While that result is of great concern, it also shows that a warrant requirement is a completely reasonable and workable policy."
Wireless providers have commoditized cell phone records and will sell to any investigating agency anybodys records. It is not illegal for an investigator to purchase a legal commodity. While I don't agree with whats happening I doubt there is any recourse for cell phone customers. I'm no legal scholar so I could be misinformed on the subject.
+Steven Gilbert I'm pretty sure the records are protected by statute in such a way that the courts get to decide whether obtaining them should require a warrant. The problem might be standing, in that in order to prove you have been harmed by their release, you have to be guilty of something. Therefore, the police probably don't rely directly on such evidence in open court when they can help it, and it only rarely comes out in e.g. murder cases.
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