Sen. Anderson battled law enforcement over license plate privacy (SDUT)

By Michael Smolens
Friday, February 16, 2018

State Sen. Joel Anderson is routinely ranked among the most conservative members of the Legislature, yet he doesn’t balk at teaming up with the American Civil Liberties Union on privacy issues.

He’s been named lawmaker of the year by the California Sheriffs Association, but has carried legislation adamantly opposed by law enforcement.

The East County Republican may be strong on law and order, but he’s passionate about protecting civil liberties in an increasingly invasive digital world.

Those tensions came into play over a recent Anderson bill that would allow people to cover their license plates when their vehicles are parked.

With the growing use of automated license plate readers by police and businesses, the legislation became another flash point in the struggle between protecting privacy and ensuring public safety.

For those, like Anderson, who are concerned that every computer keystroke goes into a database that tracks where we’ve been online, they worry license plate readers create a record of where people go physically. Some devices can scan more than 1,000 plates a minute.

“People use law enforcement as an excuse to erode our civil liberties,” Anderson said. “This is one of the times the hard right and hard left agree on a bill.”

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Originally published in the San Diego Union-Tribune on Feb. 11, 2018.