Slashdot links to a detailed article at CNet covering some forthcoming research by Nick DePetrillo and Don Bailey. Tracking a user’s location hinges on accessing services and database that at best are locked up behind a paywall but otherwise not secured and not illegal to access. The other technique discussed has been in use by private investigators for a while. The pair improved on it by automating it, lowering the barrier to surreptitiously accessing a target phone’s voice mail.
The point of the exercise wasn’t to suggest that regulation be instated to criminalize database access and phone trickery. Rather the idea seems to be to get companies and individuals who rely on cell phones to realize they may be making some bad assumptions about security without even realizing it.