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FBI arrested Google engineer in Newark for sharing AI secrets with China to develop advance Supercomputer

FBI arrested Google engineer in Newark for sharing AI secrets with China to develop advance Supercomputer

Newark, CA: An individual from China has been apprehended on suspicion of stealing proprietary data about Google’s AI technology.

Linwei (aka Leon) Ding, 38, was taken into custody in Newark, California on Wednesday and is facing four counts of “theft of trade secrets,” as stated in a news statement from the U.S. Department of Justice.

In 2019, Google recruited a software engineer to build a system for their supercomputer data centers. This system would include software that allows for the training of advanced AI models.

The issue arises at a time when American officials are raising concerns about what they perceive as China’s massive theft of research, intellectual property, and developing technologies. Information sharing with the government is a legal requirement for all Chinese enterprises according to Beijing’s National Interest Law.

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It was purportedly in May 2022 that Ding began uploading confidential material from Google’s Network to a personal Google Cloud account, using access to do so. Over the course of a year, he reportedly uploaded more than 500 secret files, as stated in Ding’s indictment.

Indictment cites email communication showing that while still employed at Google, Ding covertly took a position as chief technology officer of Beijing Rongshu Lianzhi Technology Co., a business creating machine learning systems, during a five-month trip to China.

Last May, Ding established Shanghai Zhisuan Technology Co., his own business.

“We have experience with Google’s 10,000-card computational power platform; we just need to replicate and upgrade it and then further develop a computational power platform suited to China’s national conditions.” He wrote this in an investor pitch he shared on China’s WeChat messaging app during his second visit to the country in November.

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Google learned about Ding’s Chinese business dealings a month later, when he pretended to be Zhisuan’s CEO at an investor meeting in Beijing.

The business discovered Ding’s upload history, remotely locked his Google notebook, and barred his access to the network.

“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,” said Christopher Wray, the FBI director.

Loss of employment, catastrophic economic effects, and compromised national security are all possible outcomes of intellectual property theft from American businesses. Those who steal the intellectual property and most carefully held secrets of American companies will be relentlessly pursued by the FBI, he added.

In the event of a conviction, Ding might be subject to a fine of up to $250,000 per count and a possible jail term of 10 years.

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