Monday, 19 August, 2019

Chinese worker allegedly caught stealing Apple self-driving vehicle secrets

Second Apple worker charged with stealing robocar data for Chinese firm Shown is an aerial view of Apple's headquarters in Cupertino Calif
Russell Knight | 02 February, 2019, 13:06

Chen worked in the driverless cars section of the company, which recently fired some 200 employees in a restructuring.

Apple security found thousands of files - including hundreds of photographs taken from inside Apple's Project Titan building, and diagrams, manuals, and schematics - on Chen's personal computer related to the company's autonomous vehicle project.

Apple reportedly started investigating Jizhong Chen after another employee saw the engineer taking photos in a sensitive workspace.

According to a criminal complaint filed in District Court in San Jose, California, Apple said it would be "enormously damaging" for the company if the confidential material got out.

It is the second time an Apple employee has been arrested in information theft from the company's ambitious autonomous technology project. In 2016, Apple scaled back the project to focus nearly exclusively on developing the underlying software and hardware that could eventually power a self-driving vehicle, whether that is one designed by Apple or a partner.

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Apple is working on its self self-driving auto project for a number of years now.

This broke his oath of secrecy to the Apple cult which he signed when he was hired.

Jizhong Chen was arrested in January, a day before he was booked on a flight to China where he had applied for a job with an autonomous auto company, according to the criminal complaint filed this week in USA court in California. One of the photos dated June showed "assembly drawing of a wire harness for an autonomous vehicle". Chen told Apple he was planning to travel to China to visit his ill father.

Chen could face up to 10 years in the clink for such thievery and even be hit with a fine topping out at $250,000.

"Apple takes confidentiality and the protection of our IP very seriously", Apple spokesperson Tom Neumayr told The Verge in an email. "We are working with authorities on this matter and are referring all questions to the Federal Bureau of Investigation". As with Chen, he is charged with stealing trade secrets.

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