Ex-Google Engineer Arrested for Stealing AI Tech Secrets For China

A former Google software engineer has been charged for allegedly stealing AI (artificial intelligence) property secrets from Alphabet, Google’s parent company, and sharing them with two Chinese companies he was secretly working for.

The accused, Linwei Ding, a 38-year-old Chinese national, also known as Leon Ding, was charged with four counts of theft of trade secrets, as revealed by a federal jury in San Francisco on Tuesday.

Ding was arrested from his home on Wednesday morning in Newark, California. If convicted, he can be sentenced up to 10 years in prison and up to $250,000 fine on each criminal count.

“The Justice Department will not tolerate the theft of artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies that could put our national security at risk,” said U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, addressing an American Bar Association conference in San Francisco.

According to an indictment filed in federal court in San Francisco, Ding, who started working at Google in 2019, uploaded over 500 confidential files containing AI trade secrets from supercomputing data centers owned by Alphabet between May 2022 and May 2023.

The court documents revealed that he transferred the documents from Google’s network into a personal Google Cloud account on May 21, 2022, and continued periodic uploads until May 2, 2023.

“The trade secrets contain detailed information about the architecture and functionality of GPU and TPU chips and systems, the software that allows the chips to communicate and execute tasks, and the software that orchestrates thousands of chips into a supercomputer capable of executing at the cutting edge of machine learning and AI technology,” the indictment said.

While working at Google, Ding was offered the Chief Technology Officer position at Beijing Rongshu Lianzhi Technology, a China-based AI company.

Not only this, but he also started his own AI start-up, Shanghai Zhisuan Technology Co. Ltd., in China no later than May 2023 without informing Google and was acting as its CEO.

A document related to this start-up was circulated to a chat group that said, “We have experience with Google’s ten-thousand-card computational power platform; we just need to replicate and upgrade it.”

When Google became suspicious of Ding’s activity in December 2023, the company took away his laptop on January 4, 2024, the day before he planned to resign.

Jose Castaneda, a Google spokesperson, said: “We have strict safeguards to prevent the theft of our confidential commercial information and trade secrets. After an investigation, we found that this employee stole numerous documents, and we quickly referred the case to law enforcement. We are grateful to the FBI for helping protect our information and will continue cooperating with them closely.”

Talking about Ding’s alleged actions, FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement, “Today’s charges are the latest illustration of the lengths affiliates of companies based in the People’s Republic of China are willing to go to steal American innovation.

The theft of innovative technology and trade secrets from American companies can cost jobs and have devastating economic and national security consequences.”

Ding is expected to be sentenced by a federal district court judge at a later date.

Kavita Iyer
Kavita Iyerhttps://www.techworm.net
An individual, optimist, homemaker, foodie, a die hard cricket fan and most importantly one who believes in Being Human!!!

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