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Second Apple employee accused of stealing ‘Project Titan’ car trade secrets, this time for a Chinese competitor

He faces up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000

The Federal Bureau of Investigation implicated an Apple staff member, who is a Chinese citizen, of attempting to take trade tricks related to the company’s autonomous vehicle task, according to a charging document that was unsealed on Wednesday. It’s the second time the FBI has charged an Apple employee for attempting to steal intellectual property related to the job in the last seven months. The news was initially reported by NBC’s Bay Area affiliate.

The brand-new charge comes at a time of high stress in between the United States and China. The two countries are locked in a trade war, and numerous United States government companies have accused China of taking part in multiple schemes– some going back years– to steal intellectual property from leading innovation business.

Jizhong Chen, a Chinese nationwide, was charged with theft of trade tricks based on actions that presumably date back to when he was employed last summer season as a hardware designer. He was among 5,000 Apple workers who was looped in on the business’s self-driving cars and truck effort, known as “Project Titan,” which has been operating in secret for several years. (The business also recently laid off about 200 employees from the task.) Furthermore, he was likewise among 1,200 “core” employees who directly work on the project. Chen was on the electrical engineering group, according to the charging document.

After fellow staff members spotted him taking photos of the work space where the task takes place, the FBI states Chen informed Apple’s global security group that he backed up his work computer system to an individual hard disk and computer.


Apple’s group found Chen had “over 2 thousand files including confidential and exclusive Apple product, including manuals, schematics, and diagrams,” according to the charging document. They also discovered “hundreds” of pictures of computer system screens with sensitive business info showed, including some that were clearly of his own laptop– a way to navigate the company’s internal monitoring systems, the FBI states. The grievance details specific photographs taken as just recently as December, however likewise as long ago as June 2018, just a couple of weeks after Chen was hired.

The FBI states that Chen had been placed on a “performance enhancement plan” in December and was potentially in danger of being fired. Chen also informed Apple he had actually applied for 2 new tasks outside the company, consisting of one at an unnamed Chinese self-governing car company.

Chen was apprehended one day prior to he was arranged to fly to China. He had told Apple he planned to visit his ill dad, according to the problem. Chen confronts 10 years in jail and an optimum fine of $250,000.

” Apple takes privacy and the defense of our IP really seriously,” Tom Neumayr, a spokesperson for Apple, stated in an email. “We are dealing with authorities on this matter and are referring all questions to the FBI.” Daniel Olmos, a lawyer for Chen, decreased to comment.

The FBI charged a different Chinese national who dealt with Apple’s self-driving cars and truck project, Xiaolang Zhang, with stealing trade tricks in July 2018. Zhang had actually operated at Apple for almost three years before his arrest. In May 2018, he likewise told his managers he prepared to go to China to take care of his ailing mom. He also informed them he was resigning to take a job at Chinese EV startup Xiaopeng Motors, Apple’s security team had him turn in his work phones and laptop computer. They discovered he had, among other things, AirDropped 40GB of sensitive information about the job to his better half’s laptop, 60 percent of which the company described as “extremely bothersome.”

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Daniel Zimmermann

Daniel Zimmermann has been writing on security and malware subjects for many years and has been working in the security industry for over 10 years. Daniel was educated at the Saarland University in Saarbrücken, Germany and currently lives in New York.

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