A former Apple developer has been accused by the U.S. Justice Department of trying to steal the company’s technology for autonomous systems, such as self-driving cars, before running away to China.
The case was one of five that were made public on Tuesday in an effort to thwart attempts by countries like China and Russia to illegally obtain American technology. A “strike force” established in February in part to prevent foreign adversaries from obtaining sensitive technologies made the initial announcement of the measures.
The engineer, 35-year-old Weibao Wang, was named by the Justice Department and resigned from Apple in 2017 after accepting a job in the United States with a Chinese firm developing self-driving cars.
In two of the cases, it was alleged that procurement networks had been established to assist the Russian military and intelligence services in obtaining critical equipment. Two cases, including Wang’s, involved former software engineers who allegedly stole source code from American technology firms and sold it to Chinese rivals.
The fifth instance involves a Chinese network established to supply Iran with components used in WMD and ballistic missiles.
In conjunction with the cases, which were filed in Arizona, California, and New York, four people were arrested. Charges include smuggling, export breaches, and trade secret theft.
The new organization was created in partnership with the U.S. Commerce Department to protect American technology from foreign adversaries and other dangers to national security, according to Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, the department’s No. 2 official, who made the announcement in February. The United States will, according to Monaco at the time, “strike back against adversaries trying to siphon off our most advanced technology, and to attack tomorrow’s national security threats today.”
The strike team, which is made up of 14 U.S. attorney offices spread across the nation, works to target illegal actors, fortify supply chains, and prevent foreign enemies from obtaining or using key technologies.
In an effort to stop China from getting certain chips, the Commerce Department implemented additional export curbs on advanced computing and semiconductor components last year. In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United States and a coalition of 37 other nations have put export restrictions on it throughout the past year.
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