Apple sues former employee who stole information about self-driving car

Apple has filed suit against a former employee who this spring attempted to steal information surrounding Apple’s project to create a self-driving car. This concerns technical information about, among other things, a printed circuit board for the self-driving car.

The employee was on paternity leave when he entered the Apple campus in late April and transferred files to his wife’s laptop via AirDrop, the indictment reveals. A few days later, he announced that he would transfer to another employer, China’s Xiaopeng Motors. That also works on self-driving cars.

After that conversation, Apple’s database security team saw that the employee showed more activity on the network in the days before his announcement than in the years before he worked for Apple. Security then went on to review images from security cameras, among other things.

The employee soon confessed to having stolen the documents. These include a 25-page PDF of the design for a PCB in Apple’s self-driving car. It also concerned other technical documentation.

The employee wasn’t the only one with access to it. Within Apple, 5,000 people knew about the project, while about 2,700 people had access to databases of technical information. That indicates that Apple had a lot of people working on the potentially new product. Apple confirmed last year that it was working on self-driving car technology. Since then, the US company has made no announcements in that area.