Ex-Google Employee Indicted for Stealing AI Trade Secrets to Aid Chinese Companies - AITechTrend
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Ex-Google Employee Indicted for Stealing AI Trade Secrets to Aid Chinese Companies

Former Google Engineer Indicted for Stealing AI Technology

A federal grand jury charged Linwei Ding, a former Google engineer, on four counts of theft of trade secrets for allegedly stealing “cutting edge” information from Google’s AI program. Ding, a citizen of China, was accused of trying to launch rival companies in China and downloading more than 500 private Google files to his own Google Cloud account. The accusation states that he disguised his relationships with Chinese companies and his trips to China. 

The accusations demonstrate the United States’ determination to stop China from obtaining American technology secrets. The case highlights the continued worry about Chinese attempts to get American technology, even though Ding entered a not guilty plea. 

At the annual white-collar crime conference of the American Bar Association, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the charges, highlighting the need of safeguarding intellectual property in the advancement of artificial intelligence.

Ex-Google engineer charged with stealing AI secrets for China - YouTube

Allegations and Actions:

  • Linwei Ding, who had been working for Google since 2019, reportedly concealed his connection with Chinese firms and took measures to hide his travel to China, including requesting a colleague to swipe his access badge at Google’s offices when he was abroad.
  • After learning about Ding’s actions, Google quickly forwarded the case to police enforcement. The indictment does not state that Ding really made use of the allegedly stolen information, even though it suggests that Ding’s intended projects in China would have competed with Google’s AI research.

Legal Proceedings

Ding was granted release on a $150,000 bond after making an appearance in federal court in San Francisco and entering a not guilty plea. Google promised to keep working with law enforcement and praised the FBI for its prompt action in securing its data.

U.S. Justice Department’s Stance:

  • Attorney General Merrick Garland emphasized that the case showed how committed American law enforcement is to blocking China’s attempts to grow its artificial intelligence industry by stealing technology from American businesses.
  • This case comes amid the U.S. Justice Department’s intensified focus on combating Chinese efforts to unlawfully acquire U.S. technology secrets.

Despite the discontinuation of the “China Initiative,” the DOJ continues to paint China as the primary threat to U.S. technology firms and pursues investigations and prosecutions in this regard.