After wading through the sensationalism you will find...

There are four circumstances under which law enforcement agents can use the Sprint website and obtain GPS data: 1) under the authority of a court order; 2) to track the location of a customer who has made a 911 call; 3) in an emergency situation, such as tracking someone lost in the wilderness or trying to locate an abducted child or hostage; 4) with a customer’s consent.

In the case of court orders, Taylor said agents are required to provide Sprint with the order, after which the company provisions the law enforcement account to allow an agency to track the targeted phone number. Court orders cover a 60-day period, and agents can do automated pings to obtain real-time GPS data every three minutes throughout that 60-day period. Taylor says this accounts for the 8 million figure.

“If you can access the info every three minutes over 60 days, that adds up pretty quickly,” he told Threat Level.

He added that the GPS data includes only latitude and longitude and the date and time of the ping.
... but still. I'm kind of glad that some of the provisions of the Patriot act are coming to an end.