Latest liberal online boycott target: Condoleezza Rice

The campaign’s apparently anonymous creators are calling for her removal in part because of her support for the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, including claims that Rice herself authorized eavesdropping on UN Security Council members. “Why on earth would we want someone like her involved with Dropbox, an organization we are trusting with our most important business and personal data?” the site asks.

It’s easy to dismiss opposition to Rice as partisan politics, as Drop Dropbox’s creators acknowledge. And Rice’s presence on the board is hardly the same thing as giving the NSA a spare key to your servers. Dropbox has previously been aggressive in promising to fight broad government requests for data and access to users’ files, pledges the company has codified into its “Government Data Requests Principles.”

Nevertheless, in the competitive world of cloud computing and storage, appearances matter a lot. Services for storing data and files online abound. What Dropbox and its many competitors are ultimately selling is trust — after all, you’re giving them your data — and public relations are a big part of winning your business. Customers aren’t just buying gigabytes. They’re buying into a brand. Especially in the post-Edward Snowden era where fears of online government surveillance have turned out to be anything but paranoid, Dropbox’s decision to join with someone so closely tied to the national security apparatus carries a big risk to the company’s image.