DOJ Indicts Ex-Apple Engineer for Stealing Self-Driving Car Tech for China

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced charges against a former Apple engineer for allegedly stealing the company’s self-driving car technology and sharing it with a Chinese company.

Apple car

According to CNBC News, Weibao Wang, who worked as a software engineer at Apple from 2016 to 2018, is accused of obtaining unauthorized access to databases that were limited to a select group of employees.

Wang is the third ex-Apple employee to be implicated in the theft of autonomous trade secrets for China.

The DOJ indictment reveals that Wang faces six separate counts related to the theft or attempted theft of Apple’s “entire autonomy source code,” tracking systems, behavior planning for autonomous systems, and descriptions of the underlying hardware.

The indictment alleges that while still employed at Apple, Wang accepted a job offer from an undisclosed U.S.-based subsidiary of a Chinese company focused on autonomous driving technology.

During this period, he allegedly began transferring substantial amounts of sensitive commercial technology and source code.

In April 2017, Wang accessed databases that were accessible to an even smaller segment of the company, around 2%, and exploited this access to gather the confidential information.

Vanarama apple car concept

Law enforcement authorities conducted a search of Wang’s California home on June 27, 2018, where they discovered significant quantities of stolen and proprietary data.

However, Wang managed to evade capture and fled to Guangzhou, China, from the San Francisco International Airport, violating his promise not to do so.

If Wang is extradited and convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison for each count.

These charges against Wang come on the heels of another former Apple employee, Xiaolang Zhang, pleading guilty in a San Jose federal court to a similar theft of trade secrets from Apple’s car division.

Both Wang and Zhang were working in Apple’s autonomous division simultaneously and left the company in 2018.

Additionally, Jizhong Chen, another employee, is facing federal charges for an alleged theft of sensitive information in 2019 and an attempted escape to China. Chen’s case is currently progressing in a California federal court.