I'm still trying to understand this article.
This guy did an FOIA request on the Justice Department on "Hotwatches".
It's a nice piece of research, showing that law enforcement routinely gets real time information from a variety of sources of financial transactions ("calling cards, credit cards, rental cars and airline reservations, as well as retail shopping clubs"), and they are apparently doing this not using a traditional go-to-the-judge-and-get-a-search-warrant process.
It _is_ useful to know this is happening, and interesting to learn that the justice department isn't coughing up this kind of detail readily, only when requested under FOIA. It's nice work by a blogger, as well.
The problem I'm having here is a little different. _This is a standard plot device on cop shows on TV._ So how do we all "know" it is happening and simultaneously not "know" it is happening? Perhaps everyone was assuming that this particular plot device was as fictitious as any number of other standard plot devices on cop shows on TV (say, facial recognition software on security camera images actually working).