Former Apple engineer charged for selling AppleCar tech to China

Onur Demirkol
May 17, 2023

One of the former Apple engineers named, Weibao Wang has been charged with six counts of theft and attempted theft by the Department of Justice. Wang is believed to sell the autonomous AppleCar technology to a Chinese company.

The Department of Justice accused a former Apple software developer on Tuesday of stealing Apple's autonomous technology for a Chinese self-driving vehicle firm. CNBC reported that Weibao Wang worked in Apple's Annotation Team, developing methods to speed up the process of annotating real-world items. Because of his position, he was given "wide access" to databases containing project-related data. The information he had access to was only available to 2,700 of Apple's 135,000 full-time employees.

Wang signed a confidentiality agreement with Apple, as he was given access to top-secret company files on new technology. He had also taken secrecy classes that showed him what would happen if he didn't comply with the rules. Looks like these didn't stop Wang. The indictment says that four months before he quit his job at Apple, Wang agreed on a new job offer with an unknown Chinese business developing autonomous driving technologies in the United States, and he started stealing "sensitive commercial technology and source code."

In May 2018, Apple checked data access records and discovered that Wang had accessed sensitive information just before leaving, leading the business to contact the Department of Justice. Wang has been charged with six distinct charges of stealing or attempting to steal Apple's "entire autonomy source code," tracking systems, autonomous system behavior planning, and descriptions of the hardware that was underlying the systems.

The DoJ searched Wang's house in June and found a one-way ticket to Guangzhou, China, and after he made it to China, the scope of the theft was revealed when he arrived in China. Wang is wanted, and if he is extradited and convicted, he may face up to 60 years in jail.

According to the DOJ indictment, approximately 5,000 of Apple's 135,000 full-time workers, or roughly 4% of the corporation, were briefed about the initiative in April 2017. According to the indictment, an even smaller percentage, roughly 2%, had access to "one or more" of the databases Wang accessed.

You can read the whole file here.

applecar china

Two former employees were also accused before Wang

Wang is not the first former employee to be accused of stealing autonomous technology secrets from Apple to sell them to a Chinese company. Before him, Xiaolang Zhang was also accused of a similar charge and pled guilty to theft of trade secrets. Another employee named Jizhong Chen, on the other hand, has not pled guilty.

Currently, the company is getting ready to reveal its new products and technologies at WWDC 2023, and it is a very busy time for every Apple employee.


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  1. Anonymous said on May 25, 2023 at 3:06 am

    I hope he’s punished very hard. There shouldn’t be anything such as an AppleCar. Neither in China nor anywhere else. Now I’m going to have nightmares just thinking about it. Bastard.

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