The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday charged a former Apple employee with trying to steal autonomous systems technology from the company before fleeing to China.
Weibao Wang, a 35-year-old engineer who started working at Apple in 2016 and resided in Mountain View, California, accessed a significant amount of proprietary data in the final days of his employment at the company in 2018, Apple found, according to a DOJ press release. He had accepted a job at another company based in China in November 2017, but allegedly waited four months to inform Apple he was leaving.
🚨 Weibao Wang stole Apple’s proprietary and confidential information related to autonomous driving before he left Apple and joined the US unit of a 🇨🇳 company in 2018.
Wang fled the US and flew to Guangzhou in June 2018.https://t.co/U9n3XbekBW pic.twitter.com/AbkVv1C6rh
— Byron Wan (@Byron_Wan) May 16, 2023
Law enforcement raided Wang’s home in June 2018, where they found “large quantities” of data stolen from Apple, according to the DOJ. Wang was present during the raid and purportedly informed law enforcement he had no intention of traveling, but then allegedly purchased a one-way ticket from San Francisco to Guangzhou, China, and left that same night.
The data in question largely pertained to Apple’s self-driving vehicle program, Project Titan. (RELATED: Top Biden Official Retires After Alleged Weakness On China Exposed)
The indictment is part of five cases being pursued by the DOJ’s new Disruptive Technology Strike Force, which aims to keep delicate technology secrets away from foreign adversaries. Two of the other cases involved the theft of source code from U.S. companies to sell to Chinese competitors, and a Chinese network created to assist Iran with weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) development, according to the press release.
The remaining two cases involved “procurement networks” formed to help Russian agencies obtain sensitive technology, the DOJ said. Four arrests were made in total.