Former Google AI engineer charged with commerce secret theft for China agency

The Justice Division on Wednesday introduced the arrest of a former Google AI engineer, alleging he stole details about the corporate’s superior applied sciences with the intention of establishing his personal firm in China.

Leon Ding, or Linwei Ding, a 38-year-old Chinese language nationwide, was detained in Newark, Calif., and charged with 4 counts of commerce secret theft.

Justice Division officers known as the case a sign that the U.S. authorities will stay vigilant towards makes an attempt to illicitly switch superior U.S. applied sciences to China, amid a Chilly Struggle-esque technological arms race between Washington and Beijing.

“The Justice Division is not going to tolerate the theft of synthetic intelligence and different superior applied sciences that might put our nationwide safety in danger,” Legal professional Common Merrick Garland stated in an announcement.

If convicted, Ding faces a most penalty of 10 years in jail and as much as $1 million in fines.

Based on an indictment filed March 5 in a courtroom in San Francisco, Ding was employed by Google as a software program engineer in 2019 and labored on the corporate’s supercomputing information facilities. He labored on creating software program that aided the operation of machine studying and AI purposes for Google’s purchasers, the indictment stated.

Prosecutors stated that Ding started importing confidential Google info to a private Google Cloud account in Might 2022 and had uploaded greater than 500 information containing Google confidential info by Might 2023.

The commerce secret theft counts contain chip structure and software program design specs for “tensor processing models” and “graphics processing models,” chips which are the constructing blocks of supercomputing facilities.

Whereas nonetheless employed at Google, Ding turned the chief know-how officer of a China-based AI firm, Beijing Rongshu Lianzhi Expertise Co., and based a second China-based firm, Shanghai Zhisuan Expertise Co., with out informing Google of his positions at both firm, the indictment stated.

The FBI searched Ding’s residence on Jan. 6, seizing his digital units and different proof.

“Let at present’s announcement function additional warning — those that would switch delicate U.S. know-how to China danger discovering themselves on the improper finish of a prison indictment,” stated Assistant Secretary Matthew Axelrod, of the Commerce Division’s Workplace for Export Enforcement, in an announcement.

The Justice Division stated the investigation into Ding was carried out by the Justice and Commerce Departments’ Disruptive Expertise Strike Pressure, a year-old group geared toward securing U.S. applied sciences from being acquired by “authoritarian regimes and hostile nation-states.”

Each the U.S. and Chinese language governments have recognized synthetic intelligence as a strategic rising know-how with broad potential to spice up financial output in civilian sectors, whereas additionally offering key capabilities for militaries and intelligence businesses. President Biden issued an AI government order final 12 months geared toward protecting the U.S. forward in AI towards nations like China.

Ding, Beijing Rongshu Lianzhi Expertise and Shanghai Zhisuan Expertise couldn’t be instantly reached for remark.

Google spokesperson José Castañeda stated Google had referred the case to federal officers. “We’ve strict safeguards to forestall the theft of our confidential industrial info and commerce secrets and techniques. After an investigation, we discovered that this worker stole quite a few paperwork, and we shortly referred the case to legislation enforcement,” he stated.

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