Second Apple employee accused of stealing self-driving auto tech

Second Apple employee accused of stealing self-driving auto tech

An Apple hardware engineer was charged by the US with stealing autonomous-car secrets for a Chinese company, the second such case since July.

Just 11 days before the filing, on January 11, another Apple employee (who was not named) reported that they saw Chen taking "suspicious, wide-angled" photographs within the Apple workspace.

Chen told Apple investigators he had taken the pictures to support applications for jobs within the company after supervisors tagged him with a performance improvement plan, according to the complaint.

Apple later learned that Chen had already applied for two external jobs, including one at an unidentified China-based autonomous vehicle company that was "a direct competitor of the [Apple] project", according to the affidavit. Earlier last week, Apple pushed out over 200 employees from its electric auto project codenamed "Titan" to different parts of the company.

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Apple has recently scaled back the project, laying off or transferring 200 employees from the unit, according to a recent report from CNBC. The alleged spy was working on Apple's self-driving auto project.

This broke his oath of secrecy to the Apple cult which he signed when he was hired. Chen was allegedly found to have backed up in his personal computer more than 2,000 files, including manuals and diagrams that are trade secrets. One of the photos dated June showed "assembly drawing of a wire harness for an autonomous vehicle".

A Chinese engineer was charged with stealing secrets from a stealth self-driving vehicle project at Apple, a freshly unsealed criminal complaint revealed. Chen then admitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation that he had back up his work computer to a person hard drive, and, later, a separate personal computer. Chen told Apple he was planning to travel to China to visit his ill father.

If convicted, Chen faces a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a maximum fine of $250,000. Last July, Apple engineer Xiaolang Zhang was arrested for attempting to trade confidential material to China's XMotors. He has pleaded not guilty to theft of trade secrets.

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