In an article published in Ouest France (french newspaper), on December 9th 2014, Jérôme Notin (CEO DAVFI) announced the release of the free and public version of Uhuru antimalware for smartphone (UhuruMobile).
Excited, I rushed to the website to download it and install it on my smartphone. At that time, I was dreaming of communicating securely.
Once arrived on their very nice website, I clicked on “Downloads”. Unfortunately, I was seized with fright. How? Uhuru mobile not available? Worse, the company distributing Uhuru seems to be proud to announce the flash sale of the platform… Oh but wait, wasn’t Uhuru developed under a GPL license? But let’s get back to the Ouest France article….
By Alexandre Denjean
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Jérôme Notin declares that the DAVFI project has been “developed with the societes Teclib’, DCNS, Qosmos, the Telecom Alphalink operator (…)”. Without a doubt, Jérôme Notin must have forgotten that two years ago, Alphalink withdrawn from the consortium to be replaced by Teclib’. The ESIEA, from Laval, which was involved from the beginning of the project and invested time and skills (via its students) is only cited at the end. Not a single word about Éric Filiol even though he is the designer and the principal actor of this project (that found its origins from the ESAT researches, a military entity, so funded by the French tax payers).
It is important to notice that this project has been funded by the French state and therefore the tax payers, for 2 million euros. Hence it is curious that the government would promote a product when Nov’IT has decided not only to give up providing a free Windows version, (contrary to the initial commitment made to the government) but also chose to no longer provide the ROM for the Android version (also contrary to the initial commitment). No one seems to worry about it. Even more worrying, according to a close source of Qwant, Nov’IT keeps a record of all the encryption keys of its clients on its servers. Their website indicates: “Nov’IT Co. does not collect or store any data from the user.” It seems that Nov’IT’s policy has changed and that we are slowly going to a product used to spy the citizens that is worthy of the Stasi. Because if a company has such power, nothing prevents it from spying its clients. Now if the project was born, it is especially to avoid this drift!
Without explications or announcements, Jérôme Notin deleted from his website the ROM and buried the free version of Uhuru. How can a product that is under a free license be commercialized? No doubt that the free world’s lawyers will soon have a closer look to this affair. Another interesting point is the term that is used, “open source”. Uhuru Mobile is far from being one! For software to be considered “open source”, users must be able to participate to its elaboration from the beginning. In this case, it is clear that the acceptation of these terms doesn’t mean the same for everyone…
However, Uhuru seemed to be a great project. It must indeed be invoked in the past. As it is, it is more and more looking like a marketing operation doomed to fail. One of the best IT projects of the past few years may end up totally forgotten like it happened to the Edenwall Technologies firewall. By the way, Jérôme Notin was, at that time, part of their business executive’s team. Hence the wish to know more about his career.
Jérôme Notin joined Edenwall Technologies in 2004 as a founding member (therefore getting shares) with Vincent Defontaine and Éric Leblond. He was named Director of the Operations. In 2010, following a disastrous management of Edewall Technologies, the shareholders decided to change the direction, and the whole old team is replaced. Jérôme Notin is fired in 2010. One of the explications of this change is mainly the evolution of the turnover, that was of 6.94% in 2008 and that dropped sharply to -12.81% in 2009, that is a 19.75% drop. On April 6th 2011, Jérôme Notin founds Nov’UT that will be creating the French antivirus DAVFI, with Alexandre Nicaise and Alain Duvivier. Their relations are particularly interesting for different reasons since Alexandre Nicaise and Alain Duvivier have six companies together:
Alphalink (still active according to societe.com)
Val Saint-Martin SCI
Éric Leblond is a R&D engineer at Alphalink, then it is highly possible that he was the one presenting Mr Notin to Mr Nicaise and Mr Duvivier. Uhuru’s tragedy seems to be the continuity of the disastrous adventure of Edenwall Technologies.
We feel that Nov’IT has betrayed the Free Software Movement as well as all of those that participated to this project. I therefore prefer to go with American products that, at least, are clear on their commercial objectives. Moreover, I am getting tired of waiting for a hypothetic upcoming release of Uhuru Mobile. Maybe we can hope for a release in 2017?
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