The Apple Park campus stands in this aerial view taken above Cupertino, California, USA on Wednesday, October 23, 2019.
Sam Hall | Bloomberg | Getty Images
former apple A software engineer has been charged with stealing Apple’s self-driving technology for a Chinese self-driving car company, the Justice Department said Tuesday.
Weibao Wang worked as a software engineer at Apple from 2016 to 2018 and served in the Department of Justice. prosecution Said. Wang, who works on Apple’s annotation team, was granted “broad access” to a database that only 2,700 of Apple’s 135,000 employees had access to, according to the Justice Department.
Wang is the third former Apple employee to be accused of stealing voluntary trade secrets for China.
Wang has been charged with six separate counts of theft or attempted theft of Apple’s “entire autonomous source code,” tracking systems, plans of operation for autonomous systems, descriptions of the hardware behind the systems, and more. there is
A year after joining the company and four months before leaving Apple, Mr. Wang accepted a job at the U.S. subsidiary of an obscure Chinese company that was developing self-driving technology, where he would work on highly sensitive commercial and commercial technology. I began to siphon out a lot of information. He source code, the indictment claims.
As of April 2017, only 5,000 of Apple’s 135,000 full-time employees had been told about the project, or about 4% of the company, according to the Justice Department indictment. . An even smaller segment, about 2%, remains indicted for accessing “one or more” of the databases Wang accessed.
According to the indictment, law enforcement agencies searched Mr. Wang’s home in California on June 27, 2018, and found a large amount of stolen sensitive and proprietary data there. Mr. Wang was able to flee the country even though he had promised he would not do so after law enforcement searched for him.
Wang boarded a flight from San Francisco International Airport to Guangzhou, China. U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California Ismail Ramzi said at a press conference that Wang was in China and, if extradited and convicted, would face 10 years in prison per count. rice field.
The charges were announced as part of a broader enforcement effort led by the Disruptive Technology Attack Force. Four other cases were uncovered across the United States, implicating the export of classified ballistic technology to the Iranian military, the criminal act of providing quantum technology to Russian intelligence and research units, and sanctions violations.
The charges against Wang come after fellow Apple employee Xiaolan Zhang pleaded guilty in San Jose federal court to a similar theft involving trade secrets from Apple’s automotive division.
Like Wang, Zhang was planning to flee to China. Zhang and Wang also worked in Apple’s autonomous division at the same time, and both left Apple in 2018.
Another employee, Jizhong Chen, also faced federal indictment in 2019 for allegedly stealing classified information. Cheng also tried to flee to China, according to court documents. Chen’s lawsuit is pending in California federal court.
Apple declined to comment on the matter.
Read the indictment here:
— CNBC’s Kif Leswing contributed to this report.