French startup SmartQuantum, which filed for bankruptcy in 2010, had anti-spying technology built and ready to go, and had even begun testing it with the French defense industry as early as 2007, but was unable to get the French government to adopt the technology, which ultimately could’ve blocked the NSA from tapping into millions of French phone calls & texts, as Edward Snowden revealed earlier this year.
Reported this week by Le Point, the SmartQuantum founders claim that three industrial giants – Thales, Bull and Cassidian – have a virtual monopoly on the defense industry in France, and, despite the superior technology, they were never adopted in any capacity. In addition, there were last-minute back-outs from potential investors and slammed doors by potential clients, all actions which SmartQuantum’s then CEO Frédéric Fabre says were likely perpetrated by his competitors to knock him out of the competition.
From a technical standpoint, SmartQuantum’s technology used Fibre Optic analytics, examining photon-by-photon as the information entered and left, in order to examine any injected or modified information (more explanation available in this tutorial video, in French).
Of course, all of these claims are simply allegations; representatives from the accused companies claim that no efforts were made to sabotage startups, and, as stories like these tend to be written by the victors, the real question is how many other instances there are out there of innovative technologies dying before they see the light of day because the industry they look to innovate is monopolized or insular against its own benefit?