Science and Tech


The Internet Hates Dropbox’s Condoleezza Rice Appointment

Dropbox’s move to appoint wiretap defender Condoleezza Rice to its board of directors is causing online backlash.
Posted at 12:40 PM, Apr 11, 2014

The Internet is not happy with Dropbox’s latest hire.

The online storage company announced Wednesday it has appointed former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to its board of directors, where she will oversee its international expansion and privacy efforts.

There’s no doubt a former State Department official knows a thing or two about International expansion. But her background is triggering backlash. (Via C-SPAN)

Some is political: on Twitter, Mat Honan references her past involvement with the Bush administration's torture programs.

And during her stint as Secretary of State, Rice officially advocated for and defended NSA wiretaps. In a 2005 interview with Wolf Blitzer, she reasoned: “If you let people commit the crime, then thousands of people die. So you have to detect it before it happens.” (Via CNN)

The adjective of choice among industry watchers appears to be “tone-deaf.” Techdirt says “A move like this seems like a huge public relations disaster. While Rice may be perfectly qualified to hold the role and to help Dropbox with the issues it needs help with, it's hard not to believe that there would be others with less baggage who could handle the job just as well.”

This being the Internet, a petition to get Dropbox to rescind Rice's appointment is already gaining momentum. It calls Dropbox CEO Drew Houston and the rest of the board’s decision “ethically short-sighted.” (Via Drop Dropbox)

The petition encourages use of alternatives like Box, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive, but if data privacy is the goal, such a move could be more symbolic than practical.

As TechCrunch points out, these companies aren’t necessarily paragons of information security themselves — Microsoft and Google were part of the NSA’s PRISM program, even if their involvement was unintentional.

“To those who care deeply about the politics surrounding the technology they use, there may not be a ‘good’ choice here, just the lesser of two perceived evils.”

Dropbox hasn’t issued comment on the petition to remove Rice, or the suggested boycott.