Five years after fleeing China, a former employee of multinational Apple and a Mountain View resident is officially facing charges of stealing secrets about the development of self-driving cars.
Telemundo 48 spoke with one family who says they still remember the day dozens of federal agents came to search the home of 35-year-old Weibao Wang.
They say the man lived in an apartment complex with his wife, child and another relative.
“Very nice and hard working people,” said Corinne, a neighbor of the place.
But this federal indictment tells another story.
Wang was hired by Apple in 2016 and about two years after gaining access to the company’s confidential material, Wang accepted another job with a Chinese company in the United States, but refused to inform his current employer. It took them four months.
According to the indictment, it was only after his last day that Apple realized Wang was reviewing various sensitive data during his last days on the job.
“The materials we found at Wang’s home contained code for Apple’s autonomous car system,” the US Department of Justice said.
According to the indictment, Wang bought a ticket from San Francisco to China and fled the same night as authorities searched his home.
The case is one of five ongoing, thanks to a new federal group seeking to intervene in artificial intelligence piracy that local experts say has become a persistent threat from countries such as China and Russia.
According to technology expert Dr. Ronjon Nag, the problem is not information, as artificial intelligence has already evolved a lot in the last five years. The concern is the coordinated theft that was observed, something that could become a bigger problem if they manage to make use of the stolen data quickly.
The United States currently has no agreement on extradition with China, but if convicted, Wang could face up to 10 years in prison for each secrecy violation.