Ex-Google engineer charged with AI tech theft for Chinese firms

The US Justice Department says a former software  engineer at Google has been charged with stealing artificial intelligence technology from the company while secretly working with two companies based in China. Ding was arrested in Newark, California, on four counts of federal trade secret theft. — AP

A Chinese software engineer working for Alphabet Inc’s Google was charged by the US Justice Department with stealing trade secrets for developing artificial intelligence from the company’s supercomputing data centres.

Linwei Ding, 38, a Chinese national and resident of Newark, California, who was hired by Google in 2019, has been charged with four counts of trade secrets theft, the Justice Department said in a news release Wednesday.

Ding, also known as Leon Ding, allegedly transferred sensitive information from Google’s network to his personal email and cloud accounts while secretly affiliating himself with two China-based companies working in the AI industry, according to the Justice Department.

Ding allegedly helped form one of the unidentified companies. He did not disclose his connection to either company to Google. The Justice Department doesn’t allege that Ding provided either of the companies with specific data he stole from Google.

The US Attorney’s office in San Francisco has in recent years prosecuted multiple cases over intellectual property theft involving China, including three ex-Apple engineers accused of stealing trade secrets from the company’s autonomous driving project to take with them for jobs with Chinese companies.

But not all the office’s efforts have been successful. Just last month, a Chinese chipmaker targeted in a rare economic espionage case was found not guilty of all charges, ending a five-year pursuit by prosecutors.

Ding was arrested Wednesday in Newark. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of as much as US$250,000 (RM1.17mil) for each count if convicted. – Bloomberg

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