Condoleezza Rice, surveillance and torture fan, joins Dropbox board

People don’t deserve jobs that their politics explicitly make them dangerously terrible at. Someone who opposes gay rights shouldn’t be an HR manager, someone who doesn’t believe in climate change shouldn’t be an environmental director, and someone who supports unlimited government surveillance shouldn’t be in charge of a privacy-sensitive online storage service.

No one’s saying these guys can’t be lawyers or bankers or doctors. They just shouldn’t be things that they proudly suck at.


The problem is that ‘terrible politics’ can either(or both) mean ‘political positions that are unbelievably dreadful in some way; but orthogonal to the job’ (in which case it would be dangerous witch-huntery to start casting them out, as well as probably going badly in conservativestan) or ‘quite specific terrible policy decisions and positions that cast someone’s suitability for the job into direct doubt’.

Hers are the latter. Company that makes data storage/transfer product + authoritarian surveillance enthusiast with known history of severely dubious wiretapping activity and assorted mendacity above and beyond the call of duty? Those are terrible politics; but they are also positions directly contrary to what you’d want in that company..

Not hiring people who are overtly unsuitable candidates (even if their unsuitability happens to be an in area we call ‘political’, rather than something like laziness) is merely sensible.


I’m pretty sure Canada is an APEC member. There was a great deal of controversy surrounding the 1997 APEC conference in Vancouver and the use of pepper spray on protesters.

Video archive:


For me the defining moment was the aftermath of a security breach long ago.

At the time many users didn’t realize that the encryption used by Dropbox protects only against third parties. Dropbox has unlimited access to your files and so do sufficiently successful attackers. That is not really surprising if you have at least some technical background knowledge and think about the implications of certain features for a minute. However you can’t expect everyone to notice this and the Dropbox documentation was horribly evasive on that point.

When the coverage of the breach drew attention to this, many users were understandably upset. The way Dropbox handled the issue told me two things:

  1. They are willing to go to greater lengths to mislead their customers than I am comfortable with.

  2. They basically put their foot down and said that security would never be as good as it could be because that wasn’t what they wanted for Dropbox.

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Here is a easy way to move your data from DropBox to another Service

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Sure, her competence is definitely in question. And that’s a perfectly valid reason not to hire anyone. I’m just making the point that she shouldn’t be fired based solely on her personal political opinions. I really don’t like the bag of possibilities that opens.

Wait… So I give a third party my credentials, or at a minimum credentials sufficient for full read/write access, to all my online storage accounts, they pinkie-swear that they will adequately protect those and definitely not use them for anything except what I want (and hopefully never get subpoenaed, either in Canada directly or in one of the jurisdictions where they have physical operations: “Mover uses Amazon EC2, Rackspace, Microsoft Azure, and other custom hosted servers for our server infrastructure.”, which probably means US and other in addition to Canadian jurisdiction)…

This, um, makes me more secure?

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[quote=“mindfu, post:43, topic:28134”]I’m just making the point that she shouldn’t be fired based solely on her personal political opinions. I really don’t like the bag of possibilities that opens.[/quote]You’re in luck, then; I don’t think anyone here has ever brought up the idea of firing people for their personal political opinions, save where they directly relate to the position, except as something to warn others against.

And I’ll add that some political actions are not just terrible but arguably illegal; what Rice and her colleagues really deserve are trials. They’ll never see them, so it’s hard for me to worry that she might get shamed from such a job and settle for another not quite as far beyond what most honest people might ever get, when things are already so unfair in her favor.


Where did I mention anything about this being more secure ?

Speaking of surveillance… boing boing? Why aren’t you covering this?

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At $DAYJOB, the corporate firewall blocks Dropbox precisely because it’s too tempting for people to move proprietary documents around through their service, which doesn’t have any contractual relationship with our company requiring them to protect our information (especially when employees are using it for free), and in addition they use an architecture which gives them access to any document stored on their service if they want to see it, and the software clients they install on users’ desktops may also have security concerns.

Instead, we have an internally-run drop website that does similar things - not the full functionality, but at least enough to drag files into and out of a website that’s accessible both internally and from the public internet.

Personally, I think Rice’s support of torture is orthogonal to whether she should be at Dropbox - it’s not work-related, and no different from hiring any other retired ax murderer or Mafia hitman, if that’s the kind of person you’d like on your board of directors and representing your brand. But her support for warrantless wiretapping and unfettered NSA surveillance? Those very directly affect the trustability of their product.

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You’re in luck also then, because you agree with me. : )
But other people have brought that up, either explicity or tacitly. Not necessarily here, but other places and at other times. So, I just thought it was worth noting.

I’m kind of blown away by the hypocrisy here at BB. The NSA under Obama is storing all of your personal data, has created back door hacks for just about every system, and Obama himself has a “kill list” and sits in the Oval Office deciding who lives and dies, all by his lonesome, whether they’re American citizens or defenseless “collateral damage” abroad. Who’s the war criminal now?

It’s breathtaking what’s happened to the country in just ten years. And people in the tech sector are some of the most biased and least-thoughtful of any group I’ve encountered. Condi Rice on the board of directors of Dropbox means they support torture? Wow.

Maybe people here are young - ten years isn’t much time when you’re 15 going on 25 and have no real perspective. I don’t know. The education system isn’t what it once was, and critical thinking really is dead.

SMH at the thought of how “non-secure” dropbox is for personal data, while the Obama administration already has all of your data anyway. SMH at the suggestion that storing medical records on dropbox is a bad idea (it is) all the while the government already has your medical records, or will soon thanks to the ACA. SMH at blind partisan ideology as opposed to free thought. SMH at the boycott and punish mentality of the left. And waiting for a new law allowing discrimination against employees for their political beliefs, so that folks like Mozilla can fire anyone they disagree with and not fear a lawsuit. (That will save time because you won’t have to pressure people like Eich to resign. It’s an efficiency!) Because, you know, if you can’t get your mind right you have no place here.

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Quite simply, at that level, it’s all about relationships and connections. And, of course, monetizing those relationships and connections. . .

@seriovitium I’ve coined a term for this sort of thing: Eiching. I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more of it. Especially as the political pendulum continues its’ swing back to the Center. . .

@billstewart : I’ll be waiting to see your commentary on Katherine Sebelius going onto tech company boards: the Obamacare Website debacle pretty much closes the case that you don’t want her anywhere NEAR decisions on tech. . . .

Did I say that I wasn’t angry with Obama too? Does the fact that I withdrew from a service being now partly run by one war criminal means that I am somehow incapable of being upset, revolted and calling for change when our current head elected official chooses to engage in those same acts? It’s not partisan, it’s principle, but the way that you phrased it gives me little doubt as to which consideration of the two is forefront in your mind.


Both are. Boing Boing has been very critical of Obama’s actions, as a quick search through the archives will show.

Rice is an unrepentant surveillance state advocate, most of the people who are active here are opposed to that. Her appointment to a data storage company does not look good however you spin it.

Critical thinking can lead in many directions, depending on what facts you have.

Dropbox, or Mozilla, or any other company I choose to boycott do not have an inalienable right to my custom.

I believe that is called at will employment. Or are unions not a valid form of political expression?
(sorry, confused at will employment with right-to-work laws)


You missed the excellent (and much more secure-by-design)

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Dropbox’s attitude is the problem. I’ve deleted my Dropbox account and now use Box.

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Not enough political orthodoxy for such a delicately doctrinaire flower as yourself, or that sweet, sweet 'turf? Which is it? Come on now, 'fess up.

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