Apple employee fined for stealing self driving auto project secrets

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Chen worked in the driverless cars section of the company, which recently fired some 200 employees in a restructuring.

According to The Verge's report, the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) is accusing an Apple employee of attempting to steal details about the project. Furthermore, it said, Chen admitted to backing up his Apple-supplied work computer onto a personal hard drive, which is a big no-no per Apple's security policy.

The accused staffer, Chen Jizhong, was hired by Apple in June 2018 as a hardware developer engineer to work on the company's Titan Project for the development of autonomous vehicles, according to a criminal affidavit filed in federal court in San Jose, California, on January 22.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has reportedly accused another Chinese national of stealing intellectual property developed by Apple's secretive Project Titan autonomous vehicle division, according to NBC Bay Area.

When Apple's Global Product Security team searched the employee's computer, they found "thousands" of sensitive Apple files, such as schematics, manuals, pictures, and diagrams. A June 20 image found on Chen's personally owned computer showed "an Apple-designed wiring harness for an autonomous vehicle".

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.

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Chen is the second Chinese national to be charged with stealing Apple trade secrets in recent months. He informed Apple this month that he meant to travel to China to visit his ill father.

Chen could face up to 10 years in the clink for such thievery and even be hit with a fine topping out at $250,000.

What's interesting about the latest complaint is that it reveals more about Apple's self-driving program in one document that has been made public in the years of its existence.

He was released last week after surrendering his passport and posting $100,000 in bail.

The US has charged Jizhong Chen with theft of trade secrets.

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