SOPA sponsor pushes another controversial Internet bill

The sponsor of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, is backing another bill that many critics say will diminish web users’ privacy. 

The bill, introduced by Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas), lead sponsor of the recently stalled SOPA bill, certainly doesn’t sound like a controversial idea — it’s called the Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011, a title that makes its good intentions clear.

However, it’s the methods the bill calls for that have some critics up in arms. If it passes, the law will require Internet service providers to retain data about customers, including names, addresses, phone numbers, and bank account and credit cad numbers.

ISPs will also be required to record all IP addresses assigned to an individual for at least a year and make that data accessible to law enforcement. Essentially, that would allow authorities to track anyone’s online activity if they’re suspected of illegal actions.

In addition to the privacy implications of recording the IP history of all people before they’re suspected of wrongdoing, there are security concerns, as well. If those newly mandated records are compromised, criminals will have gain access to a wealth of private information about a lot of people.

The bill was first introduced last May, when it drew the ire of organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Demand Progress. It passed the House Judiciary Committee in July so it’s now awaiting a full House vote. We’ll keep you posted.