Civil Liberties

Condi Rice Joins Dropbox Board of Directors. Who Should Worry?


Never trust anybody who uses the words "national conversation."
Credit: darthdowney / photo on flickr

Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state under George W. Bush and defender of his administration's sins, has joined the board of file-sharing service Dropbox. Here's how Businessweek reported it:

The former secretary of state's consulting firm, RiceHadleyGates, has been advising the startup on management issues for the last year. Now she'll help the company think about such matters as international expansion and privacy, an issue that dogs every cloud company in the age of Edward Snowden and the NSA.

"As a country, we are having a great national conversation and debate about exactly how to manage privacy concerns," Rice says about her new position. "I look forward to helping Dropbox navigate it."

There has been some outrage in response to the idea of Rice "thinking" about privacy. In 2005, Rice defended President Bush skipping the Foreign Intelligence Service Act (FISA) Court and not bothering with getting warrants to place National Security Agency (NSA) wiretaps on foreigners in the U.S. with suspected terrorist ties (despite concerns at the time from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress).

Those who remember Edward Snowden's very first NSA document dump about PRISM, the program to give NSA access to files and communications on servers at several major Internet companies, may recall that Dropbox was not yet listed as a participant program but would be joining soon. Dropbox denied any involvement at the time—but then, so did everybody else.

Rice's addition to the board has quickly prompted the creation of the "Drop Dropbox" campaign to encourage Dropbox to dump Rice or for consumers to dump Dropbox. Though ostensibly her support for the surveillance state should be the excluding factor for leadership of the company, Drop Dropbox also wants to use Rice's involvement in starting the Iraq War, defense of torture, and role on the board of directors for Chevron as reasons why she shouldn't serve. While the first two items are bad things that she's done, they're completely irrelevant to anything Dropbox might be doing, unless they've got some really, really unusual expansion plans.

Also, Dropbox announced that Pearl Jam was becoming an investor in the company. This also prompted a little bit of outrage by Fortune Senior Editor Dan Primack in the "Ya sold out, Eddie!" vein. Read his argument here.