The Internet is at it again. Will Dropbox cave to pressure to drop Condi Rice?


Condoleezza Rice was named to Dropbox's board of directors this week. (Reuters/Mike Segar)

That didn’t take long.

Just days after cloud storage startup Dropbox announced that they added Condoleezza Rice to their board of directors on Wednesday, a petition has popped up to have the former secretary of state removed.

The petitioners’ grievance list against Rice is long. They object to her role in the Bush administration during the war in Iraq  and the creation of the Bush-era interrogation programs, as well as her support for warrantless wiretapping, and her position on the board of the oil company Chevron:

Choosing Condoleezza Rice for Dropbox's Board is problematic on a number of deeper levels, and invites serious concerns about [Dropbox founder and CEO] Drew Houston and the senior leadership at Dropbox's commitment to freedom, openness, and ethics. When a company quite literally has access to all of your data, ethics become more than a fun thought experiment.

It's hard to tell who's behind the DropDropbox campaign. As TechCrunch notes, the move is apparently being pushed by sources who wish to remain anonymous:

The petition is hosted on a domain whose registration has been shielded by Domains By Proxy, but some of the first tweets and references to the site are found here on Reddit and on this anonymous Twitter account called @TheAnonNation, suggesting an affiliation with the loosely organized internet activists Anonymous, though not one of its “official” accounts. (i.e. @YourAnonNews has not referenced the campaign at this point.)

Of course, the petitioners' shadowy background hasn’t stopped word of the boycott from spreading like wildfire on Twitter and Reddit.

The effort follows another recent Internet crusade to pressure Mozilla to axe its chief executive, Brendan Eich, over his financial contributions to an anti-gay marriage effort in California. Last week, Mozilla did just that.

But though some tech companies are finding themselves unexpectedly at odds with their customers, the outrage has not been doled out evenly.

Take Colin Powell, who also served in the Bush administration as secretary of state and played a prominent role in justifying the Iraq war and a debatable role in the Bush administration's use of “enhanced interrogation” techniques. He joined the board of Silicon Valley-based cloud computing company Salesforce (which, granted, is a less consumer-facing tech startup than Mozilla or Dropbox) last month.

Then, the boycott crowds were pretty silent. (Although they seem to be paying more attention now.)

Former White House chief of staff Andrew Card, another Bush administration alumni, has joined the boards of several companies since leaving the White House, including cigarette manufacturer Lorillard and Union Pacific railroad. There have been no complaints, as far as I could find, about the ethics of those decisions.

Neither of those companies deals directly with the question of privacy and government intrusion as much as Dropbox might. But here's another example: former National Security Agency director Michael Hayden.

Hayden, who served in his post during the Clinton and Bush administrations, is intimately familiar with government surveillance, and is a vocal defender of it. He joined Motorola’s board in 2011.

It's hard to tell just how much of Dropbox's  user base is angered by the Rice appointment, but so far, some of the loudest of those consumers are speaking up in order to force companies to take views that better align with their own ideologies.

Conservatives, on the other hand, are not amused.

 

Abby Phillip is a general assignment national reporter for the Washington Post. She can be reached at abby.phillip@washpost.com. On Twitter: @abbydphillip
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