Well, the other thing is that you cannot run commands on arbitrary data without privilege escalation, unless you are already root. It is simply conceptually impossible. Any process that allows you to access data above your privilege level includes a privilege escalation by definition.
My take is just that the article sound sensationalist and not very competent with regards to technology.
But if you run Linux from disk on a system, and you create a user with the same ID as the user data you're trying to access on that system, you can read all the data from that user. That is not privilege escalation, as far as I can see.