Google employee charged with stealing AI trade secrets

Chinese national Linwei Ding has been charged with four counts of theft for stealing trade secrets relating to Google’s artificial intelligence technology.

Linwei Ding, otherwise known as Leon Ding, was hired as a software engineer by Google in 2019, according to an official indictment.

Due to the nature of his work, Ding had access to confidential information surrounding supercomputing data centers.

Specifically, Ding had access to information surrounding the “hardware infrastructure, the software platform, and the AI models and applications they supported.”

The suspect has been charged with soliciting trade secrets regarding Google’s artificial intelligence technology, specifically information surrounding supercomputing data centers, to AI companies affiliated with the People’s Republic of China.

Ding periodically uploaded files to a separate Google Cloud account between May 2022 and May 2023.

He uploaded 500 unique files to his personal Cloud.

“Mr. Ding allegedly schemed to siphon off cutting-edge AI technology from Google while secretly trying to go into business with Chinese competitors,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division in a press release.

According to the indictment, “Ding exfiltrated these files by copying data from the Google source files into the Apple Notes application on his Google-issued MacBook laptop.”

These Apple Notes were then converted into PDF files and uploaded from the Google network to Ding’s account – thus evading immediate detection, the indictment reads.

The indictment claims that Ding violated his employment contract alongside a separate code of conduct that Ding signed when he agreed to become an employee at Google.

If found guilty of these four counts of theft of trade secrets, Ding could face a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1 million.

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