Dropbox defends appointing Condoleezza Rice to board

Dropbox experiences some more growing pains, but this time the hubbub concerns privacy and PR versus performance issues.


Another week, another backlash in the technology world.

This time the embroiled party is cloud storage company Dropbox over what has become a controversial appointment to its board of directors.

That appointee is Dr. Condoleezza Rice, both former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor.

The hubbub started escalating almost immediately on Wednesday following the initial announcement on Wednesday, one that was noticably more quiet given the media blitz earlier in the day for Dropbox for Business upgrades as well as the new Carousel app.

Dropbox also confirmed two other leadership hires at that time: the promotion of Sujay Jaswa to chief financial officer and the addition of former Motorola Mobility CEO Dennis Woodside as chief operating officer.

The situation could draw comparisons to other firestorms in the tech industry right now, ranging from the Google bus protests in San Francisco to the fury over Mozilla's CEO Brendan Eich previous donation to an anti-gay marriage campaign, who has since resigned.

At this point in time, it doesn't look like Dropbox is going to budge to users' fury, which has already spawned a group of protesters rallying around the hashtag "#DropDropbox."

The collective outlined a number of points as to why they think Rice should be removed from Dropbox's board, much of which concerns government surveillance and privacy concerns.

This is all the more heightened following the revelations about the National Security Agency's previously-secret data mining program, PRISM, which came to light last June via documents leaked by former government contractor Edward Snowden.

In those documents, the datacenters belonging to at least nine tech giants were used as sources for the PRISM program. Dropbox was not among that pool, but it was said to be next on the list .

Dropbox CEO Drew Houston finally issued a response on Friday afternoon, emphasizing the company's commitment to user privacy while also defending the decision to keep Rice on the board.

Houston 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.

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. 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.

Image via the Drop Dropbox campaign

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