US sues ex-Apple employee for stealing source code for autonomous car technology

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The US has charged a former Apple employee with stealing “the entire source code” of Apple’s self-driving car technology. He would then have passed that information on to a Chinese start-up.

The engineer is said to have accepted a job in 2017 at a Chinese start-up working on the development of self-driving cars, while also working at Apple. He would have ‘broad access’ to ‘the entire automation source code’. When he started working at the start-up, he collected and passed on “large amounts of sensitive technology and source code” from Apple, the US Justice Department said. according to CNBC.

In 2018, a search warrant was already carried out at the man’s house, which found a lot of ‘stolen, confidential and proprietary’ data. The ex-employee promised not to flee the country, but then did. He left for China, which delayed the prosecution.

CNBC writes that he faces six separate felony charges, including “the theft or attempted theft of Apple’s entire automation source code, tracking systems, behavior planning for autonomous systems, and descriptions of underlying hardware.” He could face up to 10 years in prison for each charge, if extradited and convicted.

Apple also currently has two other cases pending against former employees allegedly stealing secrets from Project Titan, the company’s self-driving car division, around the same time. writes Apple Insider. Both suspects also tried to flee the country, but were arrested prematurely. Another ex-employee stole trade secrets in 2018 and passed them on to the media. A settlement was reached with him last year.

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