Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Ex-Apple worker charged with stealing self-driving car secrets for China

Apple's had another leak and this time it's personal Apple's had another leak and this time it's personal
Sandy Mccarthy | 12 July, 2018, 03:41

Zhang was hired by Apple in 2015 to help the company develop self-driving cars, and was given access to confidential internal databases.

Mr. Zhang's case will go before a judge in Santa Clara County, California and while the maximum penalties are indeed severe for a guy who just had a kid, we'd be unsurprised to see Apple push for those maximum sentences, given the amount of data that Zhang made off with.

On July 7, authorities learned Zhang had bought "a last-minute round-trip airline ticket" for himself to Beijing, with the final destination of Hangzhou, China. Zhang Xiaolang, once a hardware engineer for Apple's driverless auto development team, told the company in April that he was leaving to go back to China and work at Xiaopeng Motors or XMotors, which is also developing autonomous vehicles. He was subsequently fired, she said. Although industrial espionage isn't exactly and trade secret theft is hardly new nor uncommon, not every crime gets the limelight. Operating under an emergency law, the US Treasury Department plans to increase scrutiny of Chinese investment in US industries including new-energy vehicles, robotics, and aerospace, sources tell Bloomberg.

The FBI's complaint also contains a few interesting details about Apple's autonomous vehicle project.

Security footage at Apple indicated that Zhang had visited the campus on Saturday, April 28, and entered Apple's autonomous vehicle software and hardware labs.

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But aside from filing a mandatory government training plan for the permitted Lexus model RX450h vehicles that outlined how drivers could take back manual control of the auto, Apple has given few clues which aspects of the technology it's working on. It's not clear how he planned to use these.

Finally, technical details form the complaint document suggest that Apple is working on "Sensor Fusion", a technology that allows a system to create accurate location mapping and situational awareness via combining data from different sensors. But the Federal Bureau of Investigation also says that 2,700 Apple employees have access to one or more confidential databases related to Apple's self-driving auto project.

The supervisor thought Zhang "evasive" and brought in an Apple product security team, which had Zhang turn in all company devices and walked him off campus, according to the filing. He is charged with downloading engineering blueprints, technical manuals, and reports.

"Apple takes confidentiality and the protection of our intellectual property very seriously".

Tamara Crepet, a lawyer provisionally appointed to represent Zhang, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. "We're working with authorities on this matter and will do everything possible to make sure this individual and other individuals involved are held accountable for their actions".

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