Dropbox defends naming Condoleezza Rice to board

The Internet is outraged, but CEO Houston says the appointment won't change company views on privacy

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
April 12, 2014
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/3645

Earlier this week, Dropbox made a ton of new announcements. It debuted a series of new products and features, including a new photo sharing app, as well as updates for Mailbox and Dropbox for Business. It also got a new COO and CFO.

But there was one other piece of news that was bound to cause controversy: the company appointed former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to its board of directors.

And, like clockwork, the Internet found itself in a tizzy, with sites like Drop Dropbox popping up and calling the news "deeply disturbing, and anyone — or any business — who values ethics should be concerned"

The site lists its grievances against Rice, including"

  • Her role in the execution of the Iraq War
  • Her involvement with the torture (or "enhanced interrogation" if you are Dick Cheney) program implemented during the Bush presidency
  • Her support for warrantless wiretaps
  • The fact that she served on the board of directors at Chevron (where they apparently named an oil tanker after her)

The site calls for a boycott of Dropbox until CEO Drew Houston withdraws her, and even names alternatives for people to use, including Box, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, SpiderOak and Copy.

Well, now Houston has responded in a short blog post, in which he remained adamant that having Rice on the board would change nothing about the culture at Dropbox.

"There’s nothing more important to us than keeping your stuff safe and secure. It’s why we’ve been fighting for transparency and government surveillance reform, and why we’ve been vocal and public with our principles and values," he wrote.

"We should have been clearer that none of this is going to change with Dr. Rice’s appointment to our Board. Our commitment to your rights and your privacy is at the heart of every decision we make, and this will continue."

He also used the opportunity to praise Rice for what she will bring to the company as a member of the board. 

"We’re honored to have Dr. Rice join our board — she brings an incredible amount of experience and insight into international markets and the dynamics that define them," he wrote. "As we continue to expand into new countries, we need that type of insight to help us reach new users and defend their rights. Dr. Rice understands our stance on these issues and fully supports our commitments to our users."

Houston is obviously trying to quiet this storm before it really blows up, but Internet protestors recently won a big victory with the ouster of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich over his $1,000 donation to the anti-gay marriage Prop 8 campaign, and they are likely feeling emboldened to take on an even bigger target.

That, combined with legitimate concerns over user privacy and how much access the government has to our information, could turn this into a big controversy. I would expect to hear more about this in the coming days and weeks.

(Image source: drop-dropbox.com)

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