A former Apple software developer has been accused by the U.S. Department of Justice for allegedly stealing or attempting to steal technology for at least four months prior to submitting his retirement from the firm. According to the accusation, Weibao Wang, 35, provided information from Apple to an unidentified Chinese business that was working on the development of self-driving cars.
According to the indictment, Wang began working for Apple’s annotation team in 2016 and was granted “broad access” to corporate databases that only 2,700 of Apple’s 135,000 workers had access to. Before submitting his resignation in April 2018, Wang had been employed by the company for a year. However, at his leaving interview, Wang failed to share his future plans with his boss.
But a later inquiry revealed that Wang had signed an acceptance letter for a full-time staff engineer post with a Chinese company in late November 2017, more than four months before he gave his notice. Representatives of Apple discovered Wang had accessed databases holding sensitive and proprietary information about the business’s autonomous systems software one month after Wang had left the company, according to the indictment.
The indictment claims that during a search of Wang’s Mountain View, California home, investigators discovered “several personal devices containing large quantities of data taken from Apple prior to his departure,” and that his “personal desktop computer and personal external hard drive each contained various confidential, proprietary materials from the Project.”
Wang reportedly told police that he had no intention of leaving the country when they searched his house, but they later discovered that he had bought a one-way ticket from San Francisco International Airport to Guangzhou, China. The indictment states that the flight took off at around 11:55 p.m. that evening.
After Xiaolang Zhang eventually entered a guilty plea last year as part of a plea agreement to stealing trade secrets from Apple’s automobile division, Wang is now the third former Apple employee accused of collecting autonomous trade data and supplying it to China. Federal charges have been brought against Jizhong Chen, a different former worker who worked as a hardware developer engineer on Apple’s autonomous vehicle project in 2018 and is accused of stealing confidential data and giving it to China in 2019. Chen had previously asserted his innocence.
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For his alleged involvement in the theft or attempted theft of Apple’s data, including the complete autonomy source code, tracking for an autonomous system, behavior planning for autonomous systems, hardware descriptions, architecture design for autonomous systems, and the motion planner for an autonomous system, Wang is charged with six separate counts. Wang could receive ten years in jail for each charge if he is extradited from China and found guilty.