Apple worker charged with stealing self-driving-car secrets for China

02 February, 2019, 13:10 | Author: Mary Valdez
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The FBI has accused a Chinese national of trying to steal trade secrets from Apple's self-driving auto project, according to reports. The engineer was apparently arrested one day before a planned journey to China, and it was discovered that he had made a job application to a rival Chinese company that is also working on autonomous cars.

For the second time in six months, a Chinese national working for Apple has been caught collecting autonomous vehicle trade secrets, with the intent to deliver to an Apple competitor for his own benefit. Instead, the worker claimed to be leaving the country to visit family rather than fleeing the United States with the secrets.

As a result of the allegations against Chen, he faces upwards of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of up to $250,000.

Chen told Apple he downloaded his work computer to a personal computer as an "insurance policy" for job prospects in case his performance-improvement-plan at Apple ended with his termination but some photos dated back to June, Hernandez said in the filing.

Xiaolang Zhang was accused stealing trade secrets from the Apple project, according to a copy of the criminal complaint posted online. According to the report from NBC Bay Area, Apple's security team found thousands of confidential files - including manuals, schematics and diagrams - on his computer.

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"Apple takes confidentiality and the protection of our IP very seriously", Apple spokesperson Tom Neumayr told The Verge in an email. The alleged spy was working on Apple's self-driving vehicle project.

Jizhong Chen was hired as an electrical engineer in June 2018 for Cupertino's secretive autonomous vehicle project in the U.S., which Apple has still yet to publicly acknowledge.

He was arrested at the San Jose airport in California as he was about to board a flight to China on July 7.

The accused is Jizhong Chen, a native of China.

Project Titan is an effort still at Apple, even if it did just lose over 200 employees.



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