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Dropbox CEO defends Rice despite 'Drop Dropbox' privacy backlash

Dropbox CEO Drew Houston cites Rice's international experience as users fume over the appointment of a wiretapping advocate to the board

Dropbox intended to make headlines after introducing Carousel, Dropbox for Business, and the Mailbox app expansion on Wednesday. But the cloud storage company probably didn't expect those headlines to be about another news item altogether: its newest Board member, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The appointment didn't sit well with Reddit, Twitter, and the rest of the Webiverse, which immediately launched into a "Drop Dropbox" campaign to try and force Rice, a proponent of wireless wiretapping, from the company that holds files for more than 275 million users. The facts that Dropbox was listed as a "future" NSA PRISM surveillance target and was recently lambasted for automatically scanning user files to generate document previews only added fuel to the fire, though the company also conducts many pro-privacyefforts.

The outcry didn't work. Today, CEO Drew Houston took to the Dropbox blog in a post dubbed, "Our commitment to your rights and privacy" to explain why Rice was invited to the board--her experience in international areas, given Dropbox's international push, specifically--and pointedly not dump her.

Here's the full letter:

"There's nothing more important to us than keeping your stuff safe and secure. It's why we've been fighting for transparency and government surveillance reform, and why we've been vocal and public with our principles and values.

We should have been clearer that none of this is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment to our Board. Our commitment to your rights and your privacy is at the heart of every decision we make, and this will continue.

We're honored to have Dr. Rice join our board -- she brings an incredible amount of experience and insight into international markets and the dynamics that define them. As we continue to expand into new countries, we need that type of insight to help us reach new users and defend their rights. Dr. Rice understands our stance on these issues and fully supports our commitments to our users."

Sorry, protesters. It appears Rice's tenure won't be quite as short-lived as the contentious former Mozilla CEO's.

The immediate reaction on Twitter was decidedly unenthusiastic. If Rice's continued presence on the Dropbox board irks you, be sure to check out PCWorld's guide to Dropbox alternatives, as well as our guide to more secure Dropbox alternatives.

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