Apple concerned former employees accused of stealing 'Apple Car' trade secrets will flee b...

Posted:
in General Discussion edited December 2019
Apple representatives on Monday appeared in federal court to ensure the locations of two former employees accused of stealing trade secrets are continuously monitored, arguing the pair pose flight risks.

Apple Car


Three Apple employees appeared at U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to support prosecutors in an attempt to continue persistent tracking of the accused individuals before trial, reports Reuters.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Marissa Harris argued constant monitoring is vital to the case, noting that extradition would be nearly impossible if either of the Chinese-born defendants were to flee back to their home country. Harris relayed Apple's concerns on the matter by reading a statement at a hearing today, according to the report.

"Apple's intellectual property is at the core of our innovation and growth," Apple said in the prepared statement. "The defendants' continued participation in these proceedings is necessary to ensure a final determination of the facts, and we have deep concerns the defendants will not see this through if given the opportunity."

In July 2018, Xiaolang Zhang, a former Apple hardware engineer who worked on the company's autonomous car project, was arrested at San Jose International Airport while attempting to board a plane to China.

A member of "Project Titan's" Compute Team, a group tasked with designing and testing circuit boards to analyze data ingested by various vehicle sensors, Zhang last year informed management that he planned to exit the company for Chinese electric car startup XMotors. After noticing unusual activity on company devices and at Apple's campus, the tech giant confronted Zhang and discovered the engineer had stolen a number of items from its labs, including two circuit boards and a linux server.

The second employee attached to today's hearing, Jizhong Chen, was in January found to have stolen manuals, diagrams, schematics and hundreds of photos inside secret Apple workspaces. He, too, announced intent to relocate to a self-driving startup based in China.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    How does a person work for Apple AND steal a circuit board and a Linux SERVER? I thought the security at Apple was beyond paranoid.
    swat671quadra 610
  • Reply 2 of 24
    So if you work for Apple they own your soul forever?
  • Reply 3 of 24
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,648member
    davgreg said:
    So if you work for Apple they own your soul forever?
    Not your soul, if you have one, but they do own their IP and that's what these employees are being charged with. They had access to lots of proprietary information. It's not theirs to do anything with except their job. Once their job is done, that information stays with Apple. It's real simple but some people have a difficult time understand what's right and what's illegal.
    JWSCquadra 610bshankpscooter63mwhiteStrangeDaysmuthuk_vanalingamMacProMacQcravnorodom
  • Reply 4 of 24
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 1,015member
    No sense of right or wrong whatsoever.  And one of these guys supposedly had Patriot missile data from a previous defense employer, which means he would have had a security clearance.  Somebody didn’t do their homework on theses guys.  Lock ‘em up!
    quadra 610mwhiteh2pEsquireCatsravnorodom
  • Reply 5 of 24
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,477member
    davgreg said:
    So if you work for Apple they own your soul forever?
    What part of this do you not understand? Apple owns the stuff this thief stole from them. Why do you always try to put negative spin on everything?
    quadra 610bshankpscooter63mwhiteStrangeDaysEsquireCatsMacProsteveau
  • Reply 6 of 24

    What are these guys, stupid? They tell the boss they’re going to quit to work for a competitor, and THEN they try to steal the data?! No! You swipe the data first before you give notice! Corporate espionage 101, guys... And also, just reading the headline, why did I predict that they’d be Chinese?
    JWSCStrangeDaysh2prazorpit
  • Reply 7 of 24
    swat671 said:

    What are these guys, stupid? They tell the boss they’re going to quit to work for a competitor, and THEN they try to steal the data?! No! You swipe the data first before you give notice! Corporate espionage 101, guys... And also, just reading the headline, why did I predict that they’d be Chinese?
    I thought it’s weird too. They are not spies if they informed Apple that they’re going to a competitor. Could be a case of being careless with bringing work back to home. 
  • Reply 8 of 24
    Do you really believe these guys were going to join a Chinese start up?  More likely turn over all they have to the Chinese Govt and Military. 
    h2pSpamSandwichravnorodomrazorpit
  • Reply 9 of 24
    tomasulu said:
    swat671 said:

    What are these guys, stupid? They tell the boss they’re going to quit to work for a competitor, and THEN they try to steal the data?! No! You swipe the data first before you give notice! Corporate espionage 101, guys... And also, just reading the headline, why did I predict that they’d be Chinese?
    I thought it’s weird too. They are not spies if they informed Apple that they’re going to a competitor. Could be a case of being careless with bringing work back to home
    Very doubtful. Much more likely the adage is true — most criminals aren’t very smart. That’s why they get caught. 
    edited December 2019 razorpit
  • Reply 10 of 24

    Rick601 said:
    Do you really believe these guys were going to join a Chinese start up?  More likely turn over all they have to the Chinese Govt and Military. 
    There isn’t any difference. By law, Chinese companies have to comply with whatever the CCP wants of them. With this legal framework in place, there can be no distinction between private and state run entities. 
    EsquireCatsAbove_The_Godsrazorpit
  • Reply 11 of 24
    h2ph2p Posts: 309member

    Rick601 said:
    Do you really believe these guys were going to join a Chinese start up?  More likely turn over all they have to the Chinese Govt and Military. 
    There isn’t any difference. By law, Chinese companies have to comply with whatever the CCP wants of them. With this legal framework in place, there can be no distinction between private and state run entities. 
    My understanding it that the CCP encourages IP theft as a sign of being a "good citizen." AppleCar would truly be a feather in the cap for any returning scientist/engineer. "Made in China 2025" may be another initiative that encourages these sorts of incidents (see: https://www.theepochtimes.com/china-continues-to-encourage-ip-theft-practices-us-business-groups-say_2776285.html  or stories in The South China Morning Post).
    EsquireCats
  • Reply 12 of 24
    Above_The_GodsAbove_The_Gods Posts: 25unconfirmed, member
    America has essentially exported its tech industry to Indian and Chinese nationals. This is an inevitable consequence. I would say about ~5% of the Chinese tech employees in the Bay Area are spies.
    edited December 2019 6502h2p
  • Reply 13 of 24
    FatmanFatman Posts: 513member
    The scorpions strike again - it’s their nature. Stealing from the ‘enemy’ is commendable not illegal or immoral. Simple solution: don’t put Chinese employees in roles that involve access to information unless you want to give that information to the Chinese government. These employees will risk the consequences of stealing ... extended legal trials - likely covertly backed by pro Chinese government attorneys - to only result in a slap on the wrist or a few years in a US white collar prison ... in order to be national heroes ‘back home’.
    edited December 2019 6502
  • Reply 14 of 24
    When a employee leaves a job, they take their knowledge, some of which they acquire by their company, to their new company. They also brought with them to Apple the knowledge, education, creativity gained previously. This is legitimate. In the US, some employees may have a noncompete clause in their contract forbidding them from using that knowledge for a number of years, typically 2 years. 

    Now these employees were not charged with some noncompete clause violation — they clearly would be taking the knowledge gained at Apple to a potentially competing company. 

    No, they were stealing product and materials. That’s a whole different ballgame. 
    razorpit
  • Reply 15 of 24
    rob53 said:
    davgreg said:
    So if you work for Apple they own your soul forever?
    Not your soul, if you have one, but they do own their IP and that's what these employees are being charged with. They had access to lots of proprietary information. It's not theirs to do anything with except their job. Once their job is done, that information stays with Apple. It's real simple but some people have a difficult time understand what's right and what's illegal.
    They understand it just fine.  They don't care, because the money is so good.
  • Reply 16 of 24
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 1,015member
    rob53 said:
    davgreg said:
    So if you work for Apple they own your soul forever?
    Not your soul, if you have one, but they do own their IP and that's what these employees are being charged with. They had access to lots of proprietary information. It's not theirs to do anything with except their job. Once their job is done, that information stays with Apple. It's real simple but some people have a difficult time understand what's right and what's illegal.
    They understand it just fine.  They don't care, because the money is so good.
    Would have been good.  But the dummies got caught.
    beowulfschmidt
  • Reply 17 of 24
    I suppose the Federal government could solve this problem by making it illegal for any Chinese national to work in any tech industry in the US due to the security risk. That way the burden of discrimination claims would be lifted from businesses like Apple who are currently legally prohibited from taking such sensible precautionary measures.

    And there could be even a harsher line drawn by the Federal government here. Stealing tech secrets vital to American economic interests could potentially merit a death sentence penalty.

    Also... what ‘Apple Car’? Never heard of it. (wink, wink)
    edited December 2019 razorpit
  • Reply 18 of 24
    65026502 Posts: 376member
    America has essentially exported its tech industry to Indian and Chinese nationals. This is an inevitable consequence. I would say about ~5% of the Chinese tech employees in the Bay Area are spies.
    Agree, but it is way more than 5%.
    Above_The_Gods
  • Reply 19 of 24
    65026502 Posts: 376member
    Ha ha Apple. You reap what you sow. Maybe you'll learn your lesson, but I doubt it.
  • Reply 20 of 24
    6502 said:
    Ha ha Apple. You reap what you sow. Maybe you'll learn your lesson, but I doubt it.
    So you're saying the company shouldn't hire the people it thinks are best for the job? That technical skills, which can be objectively measured*, should be discounted in favour of suspicion due to someone's place of residence and/or cultural upbringing?

    There are always cultural differences to deal with. Imagine moving to a country where the left hand is considered to be for, uh, personal sanitary activities only - if you're staying for one or two years, would your behaviour change? Would it become a subconscious change? Would it become a permanent change? What about a country where it's illegal to spit out chewing gum in a public place? Or illegal to consume alcohol? Or illegal to, as a woman, dress as you please?


    * Not necessarily an accurate representation of someone's ability, but the measurement can be made in a standardised manner that minimises subjectivity.
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