Category: Privacy

2014 Transparency Report

Protection of customer privacy is one of our core values at Sonic. We seek to provide as much transparency as possible regarding legal processes and customer privacy, so in furtherance of those efforts, we are releasing our fourth annual Transparency Report.

This year we saw zero civil subpoenas, as compared with one in 2013 compared with nine each in 2011 and 2012. Law enforcement subpoena activity increased again in 2014, but as in the past, Sonic’s membership is growing so it is challenging to make a direct comparison between the years.

This year we have added the broad bracket related to National Security Letter (NSL) items, where we are limited to a disclosure of a range, rather than a specific quantity. Sonic participated in filing an amicus brief recently on this topic, which can be found here.

We have also made a number of updates to improve our Sonic.net Legal Process Policy document. The update makes clearer our retention policies for various types of customer records, and provides additional customer notification information.

We have now begun tracking law enforcement orders which are subsequently withdrawn before customer information is provided. In 2014, three law enforcement orders which requested non-disclosure were withdrawn. One of these was re-issued under seal.

Finally, we are stating for the record our position regarding compelled inclusion of back doors, deliberate security weaknesses or disclosure of encryption keys. Sonic does not support these practices.

Internet and telephone service providers have a great responsibility both to protect their law-abiding customers and the public. We continually work to achieve both of these goals.

Sonic earns top privacy score

Sonic is the only Internet Access Provider to earn a perfect privacy score.

Last week the Electronic Frontier Foundation published its annual privacy report. Among the Internet Access Providers on the list, Sonic.net alone earned a perfect six out of six stars. No other Internet Access Provider earned more than three stars. See the report for all the details.

Your private information passes through your Internet Access Provider. So, although a number of web services companies also earned a perfect score – Apple, Twitter and Dropbox among them – your Internet Access Provider’s privacy practices are critical.

When you use Sonic as your Internet Access Provider, we work hard to guard your privacy. Sonic instituted strong privacy practices when the company was founded nearly 20 years ago. We’ve had your back all these years.

Tell your friends, tell your neighbors, tell your colleagues: switch to Sonic.

Read about the annual EFF privacy report in TIME Magazine and on TechCrunch:

“Why Major Tech Companies Are Getting Much Better About Privacy”
“9 Tech Firms Receive Perfect Scores in EFF Ranking Concerning Data Protection From The Government”

An abbreviated version of the Electronic Frontier Foundation Scorecard is below. Check out Sonic’s six-star score:

2014scorecard

To read our privacy policy, visit our wiki.

Thank you for being a member of the Sonic.net community.

 

2013 Transparency Report

Protection of customer privacy is one of our core values at Sonic.net. We seek to provide as much transparency as possible regarding legal processes and customer privacy, so in furtherance of those efforts, we are releasing our third annual Transparency Report.

This year we saw far fewer civil subpoenas than 2012, with just one in 2013 compared with nine each in 2011 and 2012. Law enforcement subpoena activity increased in 2013, but Sonic.net’s membership is also increasing so it is challenging to make a direct comparison between the years. One DMCA content takedown notice was received and complied with. (Content takedowns are less common for Sonic.net because we primarily provide Internet access, and hosting is not a very large part of our business.)

Transparency Report 2013

We have also made one update to our Sonic.net Legal Process Policy document. The update makes clearer our policies by replacing “criminal subpoena” with “criminal legal process” in order to assure that we cover all possible forms of legal process.

Finally, we have now begun tracking law enforcement orders which are subsequently withdrawn before customer information is provided. We expect to release information in our 2014 report which includes more details about these situations.

Internet and telephone service providers have a great responsibility both to protect their law-abiding customers and the public. We continually work to achieve both of these goals.

Help us, protect your privacy online

Credit: Int'l Herald Tribune

A panel of the U.S. House of Representatives has just moved forward legislation that would force ISPs to retain logs about your online activities for one full year. I urge you to write to your representatives in hopes of preserving your right to privacy online.

Today we retain most IP allocation logs for just two weeks; we don’t need them beyond that period, so they are deleted. Storing logs longer presents an attractive nuisance, and would potentially make our customers the target of invasions of privacy. Any lawyer could simply file a Doe lawsuit, draft up a subpoena and request a customer’s identity. It’s far too easy.

Do the wheels of justice – or investigation – move too slowly, and should data be retained for a long time to allow for legitimate investigation? No, there are already tools in place that law enforcement can easily use to ask ISPs to preserve log information of real online criminals. The 1996 Electronic Communication Transactional Records Act allows law enforcement to require an ISP to keep data for 90 days upon law enforcement request, giving time for a legitimate search warrant to be reviewed by a judge and issued. But, keeping data on every online user for a full year presents far too much potential for abuse.

CNET writes that “It represents ‘a data bank of every digital act by every American’ that would ‘let us find out where every single American visited Web sites,’ said Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, who led Democratic opposition to the bill.” (Note that Sonic.net does not track your actual use of the Internet, so there are no logs of browsing history. Our concern is about IP allocation logs. -DJ)

Lofgren said the data retention requirements are easily avoided because they only apply to ‘commercial’ providers. Criminals would simply go to libraries or Starbucks coffeehouses and use the Web anonymously, she said, while law-abiding Americans would have their activities recorded.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation sums it up well, and provides a tool to allow you to speak out against this legislation: “The U.S. House of Representatives is currently considering H.R. 1981, a bill that would order all online service providers to keep new logs about our online activities, logs to help the government identify the web sites we visit and the content we post online. This sweeping new ‘mandatory data retention’ proposal treats every Internet user like a potential criminal and represents a clear and present danger to the online free speech and privacy rights of millions of innocent Americans.”

I urge you to contact your Representative today and ask them  to oppose this dangerous bill: https://secure.eff.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=497

See also: EFF Warns Congress: Data Retention Would Endanger Privacy, Gain Little