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Ex-Google engineer accused of AI theft for Chinese firms

If convicted, Ding faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine for each count

Alleged scheme revealed in federal charges against former Google employee
Alleged scheme revealed in federal charges against former Google employee | Shutterstock

March 7, 2024 8:40am

Updated: March 7, 2024 8:41am

A former Google engineer, Linwei Ding, also known as Leon Ding, has been charged by a federal grand jury with an alleged scheme to pilfer trade secrets from Google LLC (Google) of artificial intelligence (AI) technology, as announced by the Justice Department on Wednesday afternoon.

The charges allege that Ding illicitly appropriated more than 500 confidential files from Google, compromising artificial intelligence (AI) related trade secrets. He also operated in secrecy, collaborating with Chinese firms in pursuit of an advantage in the competitive landscape of AI technology.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland disclosed the indictment, revealing that Ding, 38, a national of the People’s Republic of China and resident of Newark, California, clandestinely transferred sensitive Google trade secrets and other confidential information from the company's network to his account.

Ding, who was reportedly operating covertly while associated with PRC-based companies in the AI sector, was apprehended on Wednesday in Newark, according to a DOJ press release.

“The Justice Department will not tolerate the theft of artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies that could put our national security at risk,” said Garland. “In this case, we allege the defendant stole artificial intelligence-related trade secrets from Google while secretly working for two companies based in China. We will fiercely protect sensitive technologies developed in America from falling into the hands of those who should not have them.”  

The indictment outlines that Ding was employed by Google as a software engineer in 2019. His role encompassed the development of software utilized in Google's supercomputing data centers. As part of his job, Ding was authorized access to Google's proprietary information concerning hardware infrastructure, software platform, and the associated AI models and applications.

Executive Editor

Gelet Martínez Fragela

Gelet Martínez Fragela is the founder and editor-in-chief of ADN America. She is a Cuban journalist, television producer, and political refugee who also founded ADN Cuba.