DOJ Charges Former Apple Employee With Stealing Autonomous Car Tech

The U.S. Department of Justice has charged a former Apple software engineer with stealing the tech major’s autonomous technology for an unnamed Chinese self-driving car company.

Weibao Wang, who worked at Apple from 2016 to 2018, was charged with six counts of theft or attempted theft by prosecutors. He is found to have stolen the entire Project source code on Apple’s autonomous technology, which can be used to develop and build self-driving cars, for a Chinese company with which he was in agreement for work.

Wang fled the country to China the same day his home was searched by law enforcement.

As per the DOJ indictment, WANG signed Apple’s Confidentiality and Intellectual Property Agreement or IPA in late 2015 and joined Apple in 2016 as a software engineer on the autonomous systems project. Around April 2018, he was one of the around 2,700 of Apple’s over 135,000 full time employees to have had access to one or more of the Databases of the autonomous tech project.

In mid April 2018, he resigned from the company without indicating what he planned to do after leaving Apple and where he was going to work.

The DOJ found that without the knowledge of Apple, on or about November 22, 2017, more than four months prior to his resignation email, WANG signed a letter accepting an offer of full-time employment as a Staff Engineer with the U.S.-based subsidiary of a Chinese company working to develop self-driving cars.

In or around May 2018, Apple identified WANG as having accessed large amounts of sensitive Project information in the days leading up to his departure from Apple.

Following this, law enforcement searched Wang’s home in California on June 27, 2018, and seized various devices that contained large quantities of data taken from Apple and various confidential and proprietary materials from the Project.

Though he was present at the search and told agents that he had no plans to travel, later on the same day, he traveled from San Francisco International Airport to Guangzhou, China.

Among the materials recovered was the entire Project source code, as it existed at the time surrounding WANG’s departure from Apple.

In the indictment, Wang has been charged with six counts involving the theft or attempted theft. These included Apple’s entire autonomy source code, tracking for an autonomous system, behavior planning for autonomous systems, descriptions of the hardware that was behind the systems, and motion planner for an autonomous system .

According U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California Ismail Ramsey, Wang is in China, and if extradited and convicted, would face 10 years in prison for each count.

Wang joins with two other former Apple employees who are accused of stealing autonomous trade secrets for China.

Xiaolang Zhang, who also worked at Apple’s autonomous division at the same time as Wang and left employment in 2018, pleaded guilty in San Jose federal court to a similar theft involving trade secrets in Apple’s car division.

Jizhong Chen, another Apple employee, is also facing federal charges over his alleged 2019 theft of sensitive information, and the case is proceeding in California federal court.

Source: Read Full Article