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SOPA 2.0? Progressive group targets data retention bill

The controversial advocacy group Demand Progress can't get enough of Lamar Smith.

After working to torpedo the Texas Republican's Stop Online Piracy Act, Demand Progress is taking aim at another of Smith's bills.

The Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act (HR 1981), which cleared Smith's House Judiciary Committee 19-10 last year after a hotly contested markup, would require Internet service providers to keep some user information on file to help track pedophiles and child pornographers. The bill's supporters say it does not require the collection of content and most ISPs already retain the data.

Still, the measure drew attention from critics who see a potential to undermine privacy and civil liberties.

House aides say the bill is effectively dead for now, but that hasn't stopped opponents from reigniting the debate after SOPA and its Senate companion bill were shelved. The issue also resurfaced on the link-sharing website Reddit, where users organized opposition to SOPA.

Demand Progress, which claims a following of more than one million, is asking supporters to send letters to Congress opposing the bill.

"We taught Congress a lesson last month: We need to do to HR 1981 what we did to SOPA, and make it clear to Lamar Smith and the rest of Congress that they can't run roughshod over Internet freedom," the group's executive director, David Segal, said in a statement.

Smith's spokeswoman, Kim Hicks, said child pornography is one of the fastest growing crimes in the U.S. "The Internet can be a force for good or bad," she said. "But it should not be used to facilitate crimes against our children."

During the fight over anti-piracy legislation the U.S. Chamber of Commerce accused Demand Progress of using scare tactics to distort the issue.

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