US gov’t announces arrest of former Google engineer for alleged AI trade secret theft


Enlarge / A Google signal stands in entrance of the constructing on the sidelines of the opening of the brand new Google Cloud information middle in Hesse, Hanau, opened in October 2023.

On Wednesday, authorities arrested former Google software program engineer Linwei Ding in Newark, California, on expenses of stealing AI commerce secrets and techniques from the corporate. The US Division of Justice alleges that Ding, a Chinese language nationwide, dedicated the theft whereas secretly working with two China-based corporations.

Based on the indictment, Ding, who was employed by Google in 2019 and had entry to confidential details about the corporate’s information facilities, started importing lots of of information into a private Google Cloud account two years in the past.

The commerce secrets and techniques Ding allegedly copied contained “detailed details about the structure and performance of GPU and TPU chips and techniques, the software program that enables the chips to speak and execute duties, and the software program that orchestrates hundreds of chips right into a supercomputer able to executing on the reducing fringe of machine studying and AI expertise,” in keeping with the indictment.

Shortly after the alleged theft started, Ding was provided the place of chief expertise officer at an early-stage expertise firm in China that touted its use of AI expertise. The corporate provided him a month-to-month wage of about $14,800, plus an annual bonus and firm inventory. Ding reportedly traveled to China, participated in investor conferences, and sought to boost capital for the corporate.

Investigators reviewed surveillance digicam footage that confirmed one other worker scanning Ding’s identify badge on the entrance of the constructing the place Ding labored at Google, making him appear to be he was working from his workplace when he was really touring.

Ding additionally based and served because the chief government of a separate China-based startup firm that aspired to coach “massive AI fashions powered by supercomputing chips,” in keeping with the indictment. Prosecutors say Ding didn’t disclose both affiliation to Google, which described him as a junior worker. He resigned from Google on December 26 of final 12 months.

The FBI served a search warrant at Ding’s house in January, seizing his digital gadgets and later executing a further warrant for the contents of his private accounts. Authorities discovered greater than 500 distinctive information of confidential data that Ding allegedly stole from Google. The indictment says that Ding copied the information into the Apple Notes software on his Google-issued Apple MacBook, then transformed the Apple Notes into PDF information and uploaded them to an exterior account to evade detection.

“We’ve strict safeguards to forestall the theft of our confidential business data and commerce secrets and techniques,” Google spokesperson José Castañeda advised Ars Technica. “After an investigation, we discovered that this worker stole quite a few paperwork, and we shortly referred the case to legislation enforcement. We’re grateful to the FBI for serving to shield our data and can proceed cooperating with them intently.”

Legal professional Common Merrick Garland introduced the case towards the 38-year-old at an American Bar Affiliation convention in San Francisco. Ding faces 4 counts of federal commerce secret theft, every carrying a possible sentence of as much as 10 years in jail.

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