[caption id="attachment_55266" align="alignright" width="317" caption="Sonic.net earned the highest score yet on the Electronic Frontier Foundation's annual data privacy report. (EFF graphic)"][/caption]

SANTA ROSA -- Internet service provider Sonic.net today was recognized by national online-rights watchdog Electronic Frontier Foundation for getting the highest score among 18 national companies for actively protecting the privacy of customers' data.

Sonic.net received four out of four "stars," for notifying customers when government demands for data are received, telling customers about such requests, fighting requests in court and campaigning for privacy in Congress, according to the foundation's 2012 privacy report.

"We are especially pleased to recognize the first company to ever receive a full gold star in each of the categories measured by the privacy and transparency report: Sonic.net," the report said.

Runner up Twitter earned three and a half stars, and DropBox and Google tied with three stars apiece.

Santa Rosa-based Sonic.net asked to be added to the report this year, and the foundation obliged "because of their courageous and creative efforts to serve as a model of an ISP that stands up for users." Sonic published a transparency report as well as legal-process policy this year for the first time, the report noted.Customer Notification Policy

For civil legal process - It is Sonic.net’s policy to notify customers upon receipt of a civil subpoena demand of their account information. There is a two week wait period before disclosure of information.

Sonic.net will advise the customer that the information will be disclosed unless Sonic.net is in receipt of a document seeking a court approved protective order prior to the date on which Sonic.net must legally comply with the demand.


For criminal legal process - Sonic.net will notify customer of upon receipt for criminal subpoena unless confidentiality is specifically required by the order. Please obtain a sealed order if confidential treatment is required.

Source: Sonic.net Legal Process Policy

Those "courageous and creative efforts," the foundation noted, included the company's rise to national prominence in October when it fought alongside Google against a U.S. Justice Department secret order to turn over information related to the government case against Wikileaks suspect Jason Appelbaum. Sonic lost a court battle and had to give up email addresses of people with whom he corresponded.

"Customer privacy is critical in the information age," wrote Sonic.net Chief Executive Officer Dane Jasper on his corporate blog about the 2012 privacy report. "It’s far too easy for both private and government entities to overstep, and service providers are the last line of defense. Sonic.net invests time and resources in assuring the our customers are protected and informed, and we have a policy of transparency, which I believe is critical for Internet providers of all types."

Sonic received nine civil subpoenas last year involving copyright infringement claims, up from two in 2010, concerning business-dispute allegations, according to the company's 2011 transparency report, posted in late April. The company received 13 law-enforcement court orders for information last year. Sonic had to surrender data in two of last year's civil-law matters and seven of the criminal matters. 

Other newcomers to the 2012 privacy report were cloud storage provider SpiderOak and social networks Loopt, Foursquare and LinkedIn.