Former Google Engineer Charged With Stealing AI Trade Secrets for China

A former Google software engineer faces serious charges. Accusers claim he stole confidential information about the company’s artificial intelligence systems. He did this while working for two rival Chinese tech firms.

Linwei Ding is a Chinese national also known as Leon Ding. This week, California indicted him on four criminal counts. Someone stole over 500 files with trade secrets from Google. This led to the charges. Law enforcement officers arrested him on Wednesday.

Prosecutors allege that Google hired him in 2019 to help with AI infrastructure. After that, Ding began to upload big batches of the company’s sensitive data to his account. He did so. He did this for over a year.

Former Google Engineer Charged With Stealing AI Trade Secrets for China

During that time, people accused Ding of moonlighting. He was the chief technology officer for a Chinese AI start-up. It paid him over $14,000 per month. He also allegedly started his own machine-learning company in China. He did not tell Google about either role.

The indictment states Ding presented his business at an investor conference in China. He did this last November. He did this while still employed by Google. The tech giant discovered his actions and cut off his data access. Ding resigned and booked a one-way flight to Beijing.

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If convicted on all charges, the 31-year-old faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines per count. In announcing the case, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland condemned Ding. Accusers have accused him of “theft of artificial intelligence.” He said it’s a threat to national security. Greed motivated the theft.

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The prosecution highlights growing tensions. They are between the U.S. and China. They are over technological competition, intellectual property, and economic espionage. Both nations have increased disputes and trade restrictions on advanced industries. These include semiconductors and AI. The nations are jockeying for dominance in these critical fields.

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