• en

Former Google Engineer Arrested, Charged With Theft Of Google’s AI Secrets

Ding had allegedly been uploading company files to his personal account for over a year.

FILE – In this Oct. 20, 2015 file photo, signage sits outside Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. Google is postponing a return to the office for most workers until mid-October and rolling out a policy that will eventually require everyone to be vaccinated once its sprawling campuses are fully reopened in an attempt to fight the spreading Delta variant. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

In the United States, a former Google software engineer, Linwei Ding, also known as Leon Ding, has been charged with the theft of trade secrets related to artificial intelligence (AI).

Ding, a Chinese national, allegedly stole over 500 confidential files while working for Google and secretly collaborating with two Chinese companies. The charges were filed in California, and Ding was arrested on Wednesday.

The stolen information pertains to the infrastructure of Google’s supercomputing data centres, crucial for hosting and training large AI models. Ding, who joined Google in 2019, is accused of beginning the unauthorized uploads to his personal Google account in May 2022, continuing periodically for a year.

During this time, Ding reportedly spent several months in China, working for Beijing Rongshu Lianzhi Technology, a start-up that offered him $14,800 per month to serve as their Chief Technology Officer. Additionally, Ding allegedly founded his own tech firm, Shanghai Zhisuan Technology, focusing on AI and machine learning.

Prosecutors claim that Ding did not disclose his involvement with either Chinese company to Google. He applied to a China-based organization for assistance in developing his business, presenting it at an investor conference in China in November 2023.

Upon suspicion, Google discovered Ding attempting to upload more files while in China in December. Despite Ding’s claim that it was to provide proof of his work for Google, the company became increasingly suspicious.

After he booked a one-way ticket from San Francisco to Beijing and resigned on December 26, Google suspended his access and investigated his activity history.

Google spokesman José Castañeda stated that the company has strict safeguards to prevent the theft of confidential information, promptly alerting authorities when evidence of wrongdoing is found.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland emphasized that Ding sought personal enrichment by covertly working for companies aiming to gain an edge in the AI technology race.

“The Justice Department will not tolerate the theft of artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies that could put our national security at risk,” Garland said.

FBI Director Christopher Wray commented that Ding’s actions are an example of the lengths Chinese companies go to steal American innovation. The US and China have been embroiled in a trade dispute, with both nations imposing tariffs on each other’s goods, further escalating under the Biden administration.

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi

Follow us on: