Internet Revolt Begins as Condi Rice Joins Dropbox Board
It’s easy to dismiss opposition to Rice as partisan politics, as Drop Dropbox’s creators acknowledge. And Rice’s presence on the board is hardly the same thing as giving the NSA a spare key to your servers. Dropbox has previously been aggressive in promising to fight broad government requests for data and access to users’ files, pledges the company has codified into its “Government Data Requests Principles.”
Nevertheless, in the competitive world of cloud computing and storage, appearances matter a lot. Services for storing data and files online abound. What Dropbox and its many competitors are ultimately selling is trust — after all, you’re giving them your data — and public relations are a big part of winning your business. Customers aren’t just buying gigabytes. They’re buying into a brand. Especially in the post-Edward Snowden era where fears of online government surveillance have turned out to be anything but paranoid, Dropbox’s decision to join with someone so closely tied to the national security apparatus carries a big risk to the company’s image.
We would assume that Dropbox realized this. And at least after the fact, the company argues that Rice is more of an asset than a hinderance to the company. “When looking to grow our board, we sought out a leader who could help us expand our global footprint,” Houston wrote on Dropbox’s blog. “Dr. Rice has had an illustrious career as Provost of Stanford University, board member of companies like Hewlett Packard and Charles Schwab, and former United States Secretary of State. We’re honored to be adding someone as brilliant and accomplished as Dr. Rice to our team.”