Published: Sat, February 02, 2019
Business | By Eloise Houston

Another Apple employee arrested over stealing self-driving tech secrets

Another Apple employee arrested over stealing self-driving tech secrets

This is the second time in six months that a Chinese worker has been caught allegedly trying to steal Apple's self-driving auto tech.

In July 2018, Zhang Xiaolong, who was hired by Apple to develop software and hardware for the company's autonomous vehicle project, was accused by USA authorities of downloading data, including a blueprint for a circuit board used in self-driving cars, with the intention of transferring it to China. Security personnel also found on the computer about a hundred photographs taken inside an Apple building.

In December, Chen was put on notice by Apple that his work performance needed to improve. He was placed on the plan in December previous year. Agents then dug into his files, grilled him in interviews, and eventually suspected he was guilty of stealing trade secrets.

The FBI reportedly arrested a Chinese national working for Apple the day before he planned to fly back to China with thousands of files on his laptop, including Apple's intellectual property.

The FBI had filed criminal complaints against the engineer with a district court in San Jose, California, on Tuesday last week.

The news comes after another Apple employee was accused of stealing trade secrets about the project in July 2018. Chen told Apple he was planning to travel to China to visit his ill father. It's worth noting the United States and China aren't really getting along when it comes to trade and intellectual property.

Apple has been working on an autonomous vehicle project for several years.

Few employees have also noticed Chen taking pictures of the are in which the project was taking place. The team and its location are not even listed in Apple's internal materials.

Last week, Apple cut 200 employees from Project Titan. Those core staffers are split into siloed departments, and only have access to their own department's databases with every request to look outside their immediate area of work reviewed by an administrator. Despite this, the company has managed to keep the secrecy of the details of the vehicle.

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