US NewsFormer Google technical expert accused of stealing confidential AI-related data

Former Google technical expert accused of stealing confidential AI‑related data

Former Google technical expert accused of stealing confidential AI-related data
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8:22 AM EST, March 7, 2024

The U.S. has charged a former Google software engineer with the theft of trade secrets related to artificial intelligence (AI), alleging the individual was covertly employed by two Chinese firms.

Chinese spy at Google?

Linwei Ding, 38, also known as Leon Ding, faces four counts of theft of trade secrets, the US attorney general, Merrick Garland, said in a statement. The individual from China is accused of taking over 500 confidential documents. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison and fined up to $250,000 for each charge.

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," said the FBI director, Christopher Wray

According to local media, a lawyer for Mr Ding could not be identified to comment on the case. He allegedly took information concerning the infrastructure of Google's supercomputing data centers, which play a crucial role in hosting and training extensive AI models - reports BBC. According to the indictment, he is accused of starting to transfer information from Google's network to his personal Google account in May 2022. This activity reportedly occurred at intervals over the span of a year.

The indictment alleges that he spent multiple months in China employed by Beijing Rongshu Lianzhi Technology during this time. This start-up recruited him, offering a monthly salary of $14,800 to serve as its Chief Technology Officer.

Furthermore, he claimed to have founded his technology company, Shanghai Zhisuan Technology, specializing in AI and machine learning, appointing himself as the CEO.

"The Justice Department will not tolerate the theft of artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies that could put our national security at risk," said Attorney General Garland in a press release. And added, "In this case, we allege the defendant stole artificial intelligence-related trade secrets from Google while secretly working for two companies based in China. We will fiercely protect sensitive technologies developed in America from falling into the hands of those who should not have them."

US-China competition

In recent years, the US and China have found themselves locked in a fierce trade conflict, each striving to outmaneuver the other for a competitive advantage. This confrontation has led to both nations implementing tariffs on each other's goods, affecting hundreds of billions of dollars in trade - reports BBC.

Source: BBC, The Guardian

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