On April 9, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston stated during a high-profile event that Condoleezza Rice has joined the company’s board of directors. Although the news sparked complaints all over the Internet, Houston made it clear that the Secretary of State under the Bush administration is not stepping down from the enterprise’s board. As a result, a “Drop Dropbox” campaign was started and Reddit was among the first to support the boycott. Houston insisted that Rice’s involvement in the company will not affect people’s intimacy and added that the company is proud to have her on board.
Condoleezza Rice has become a controversial professional ever since she “was intimately involved in the decision to go to war with Iraq” and authorized warrantless wiretaps, but Dropbox CEO Drew Houston implied that she is not stepping down from the enterprise’s board. When news broke that an advocate for warrantless wiretapping was going to be part of the service that holds the data of 275 million worldwide, the Internet reacted and boycotted her presence in a company actively fighting for government surveillance reform. Although Houston addressed these concerns in a sort-of apology Friday, Dropbox users have not let their guard down and insist that Rice’s past actions do not align with the company’s creed.
However, this is not the first time Rice is under scrutiny. Last month, students and educators protested the decision of Rutgers’ board to invite the former Secretary of State as the university’s commencement speaker. However school officials decided to keep her on board. Fast-forward one month later, Dropbox CEO is publicly backing its new board member and states that “none of this [transparency and government surveillance reform] is going to change with Dr. Rice’s appointment to our Board.”
The Internet outcry continued even after Houston implied that Condoleezza Rice will not be stepping down from Dropbox’s board of directors and Reddit even posted its support for the boycott on the first page of the technology section.
The website that urges people not to use the service anymore offers sound arguments regarding Rice’s involvement in sending soldiers to Iraq, allowing torture methods and authorizing warrantless wiretap of UN Security Council members. As a result, the newly made website suggests that people should stop using Dropbox and try other alternatives, unless Houston fires his new board member.
Chris Green, Principal Technology Analyst of Davies Murphy Group told the BBC that the service has bigger concerns than its users, namely the growing competition. According to Green, Google, Amazon and Microsoft “are offering competing services,” so the company could be facing other pressing problems. Although he stated that the users are probably not concerned over Rice’s appointment, the website which encourages people to stop using the service has become more popular in the past few days. Irrespective of the Internet outcry, Houston maintains his position and believes that naming Rice a member of the board will help the company “expand our global footprint.” At least for now, Condoleezza Rice is not stepping down from Dropbox’s board of directors, even though people believe that the service will not be a safe, transparent place to store personal data anymore.
By Gabriela Motroc