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Tuesday, April 23 2024
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US Arrests Chinese Citizen for Stealing Google’s AI Tech

Photo Credit : Google

US Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that a Chinese software engineer was detained on Wednesday on suspicion of stealing Google’s artificial intelligence technology while working covertly for two Chinese companies.

According to a statement from Garland, 38-year-old Linwei Ding, better known as Leon Ding, is accused of four counts of stealing trade secrets.

Ding, who was detained on Wednesday in Newark, California, is accused of surreptitiously connecting to Chinese-based AI companies while transferring sensitive data from Google’s network to his personal account.

“The Justice Department will not tolerate the theft of artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies that could put our national security at risk,” Garland said.

“We will fiercely protect sensitive technologies developed in America from falling into the hands of those who should not have them.”

Ding’s arrest illustrates “the lengths affiliates of companies based in the People’s Republic of China are willing to go to steal American innovation,” FBI director Christopher Wray said, referring to China by its official name.

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

According to the indictment, Ding was hired by Google in 2019 and was involved in developing the software deployed in Google’s supercomputing data centers.

He allegedly began uploading confidential Google information into a personal cloud account between May 2022 and May 2023.

The pilfered files related to the hardware infrastructure and software platform that allows Google’s supercomputing data centers to train large AI models through machine learning.

In June 2022, Ding was approached by the chief executive of a Chinese early-stage technology company, Beijing Rongshu Lianzhi Technology Co (Rongshu), and offered the position of chief technology officer with a monthly salary of $14,800, the indictment said.

Prior to May 2023, Ding established Shanghai Zhisuan Technology Co (Zhisuan), a corporation based in China, and he was appointed CEO, according to the statement.

The prosecution claims that Ding never disclosed to Google his involvement with Rongshu or Zhisuan.

Google, a Mountain View, California-based corporation, examined Ding’s network activity history after his resignation in December 2023 and found his illegal uploads from May 2022 to May 2023.

“After an investigation, we found that this employee stole numerous documents, and we quickly referred the case to law enforcement,” Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda said.

“We have strict safeguards to prevent the theft of our confidential commercial information and trade secrets,” Castaneda said. “We are grateful to the FBI for helping protect our information and will continue cooperating with them closely.”

Ding faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison if convicted and a fine of up to $250,000 for each count.

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