Dropbox founders responded to an Internet revolt that swelled this week after the tech company asked Condoleezza Rice to serve on its board.
CEO Drew Houston issued a sort-of apology Friday and said inviting the former secretary of state to serve on the company’s board would not impact its fight for transparency and government surveillance reform.
“We should have been clearer that none of this is going to change with Dr. Rice’s appointment to our Board,” Houston wrote in a company blog post. “Our commitment to your rights and your privacy is at the heart of every decision we make, and this will continue.”
Earlier in the week, Internet users rebelled against the appointment of Rice, who served under President George W. Bush and was a central architect of the U.S. invasion into Iraq. The online campaign “Drop Dropbox” urged users to ditch their Dropbox accounts and opt for an alternative. Critics called for Dropbox to remove Rice over her role in pushing the Bush administration mantra that Iraq leader Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction.
“Choosing Condoleezza Rice for Dropbox's Board is problematic on a number of deeper levels, and invites serious concerns about Drew Houston and the senior leadership at Dropbox's commitment to freedom, openness, and ethics,” organizers wrote. “When a company quite literally has access to all of your data, ethics become more than a fun thought experiment.”
The firestorm surrounding Rice overshadowed what was supposed to be a triumphant media rollout for Dropbox earlier this week. On Wednesday, the Silicon Valley startup introduced a slew of new products and apps. There are whispers the company will go public soon.
Rice is a public lightning rod just about everywhere she goes. Students and educators last month protested Rutgers’ decision to invite Rice as the university’s commencement speaker. Despite the uproar, school officials ultimately voted to keep her on board.