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Another Apple employee caught stealing self-driving car tech for China

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The Apple car is still on the drawing board, but that doesn’t stop Chinese companies from wanting to steal details of it.
Concept: Midjourney/Cult of Mac

An Apple employee was recently indicted for transferring self-driving car technology trade secrets to a rival company in China. This is the third time something similar has happened.

The cases are similar: the workers get hired by Chinese companies then get caught bringing Apple’s proprietary information with them when they leave the United States.

Chinese companies want Apple car tech

Although Apple has yet to formally announce that it’s working on a self-driving car, it’s an open secret. Details on the company’s efforts to make an autonomous vehicle have been leaking out for many years.

It’s undoubtedly made enough progress that people keep trying to steal its trade secrets. Details of an example recently came to light. These were revealed by the U.S. Justice Department and covered by Reuters.

The case follows the familiar pattern. Weibao Wang worked on the Apple car project, but was then hired by a Chinese company in 2017. He didn’t tell his current employer, and Apple realized he’d accessed a large number of trade secrets during his last days before leaving the U.S. A search of Wang’s home by federal agents found plenty of proprietary Apple data.

Wang was indicted in April 2023. Apparently, the authorities waited so long because the suspect left the U.S. before he could be arrested.

Third times is the charm

That description should sound familiar because Xiaolang Zhang was arrested for doing almost exactly the same thing in 2018. The main difference in his story was that he was arrested at the airport.

A few months later, the FBI arrested Jizhong Chen after he had gathered a large amount of Apple’s proprietary information Chen was allegedly taking to a Chinese electric car manufacturer.

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