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US Indicts Google Engineer of Stealing AI Secrets For China

The employee, a Chinese national, stole details about chips and software that helps power a supercomputer “capable of executing at the cutting edge of machine learning and AI technology”

A Google sign is seen at its office in California
A Google sign is seen at its office in California. Photo: Reuters


A US jury indicted a former Google engineer on Tuesday for stealing trade secrets related to artificial intelligence from the tech giant in order to help two Chinese firms he was secretly working for.

The indictment said Chinese national Linwei Ding, also known as Leon Ding, stole detailed information form Google’s Alphabet unit about the hardware infrastructure and software platform that lets the tech firm’s supercomputing data centres train large AI models through machine learning.

The stolen information included details about chips and systems, and software that helps power a supercomputer “capable of executing at the cutting edge of machine learning and AI technology,” the indictment said.


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Google designed some of the allegedly stolen chip blueprints to gain an edge over cloud computing rivals Amazon.com and Microsoft, and reduce its reliance on Nvidia.

Ding allegedly began his thefts three years after Google hired him in 2019. At the time, an early-stage Chinese tech company was courting Ding as its chief technology officer.

By May 2023, Ding uploaded more than 500 confidential files, the indictment said, adding that he founded his own technology company that month.

Ding then circulated a document to a chat group that said “We have experience with Google’s ten-thousand-card computational power platform; we just need to replicate and upgrade it.”


Biden’s ‘Disruptive Technology Strike Force’

Google became suspicious of Ding in December 2023 and took away his laptop on January 4, this year, a day before Ding planned to resign.

The 38-year-old was arrested on Wednesday morning at his home in Newark, California. A lawyer for him could not immediately be identified.

Ding faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each criminal count.

Jose Castaneda, a Google spokesperson, said: “We have strict safeguards to prevent the theft of our confidential commercial information and trade secrets. After an investigation, we found that this employee stole numerous documents, and we quickly referred the case to law enforcement.”

Ding’s indictment was unveiled a little over a year after the Biden administration created an interagency Disruptive Technology Strike Force to help stop advanced technology being acquired by countries such as China and Russia, or potentially threaten national security.

“The Justice Department just will not tolerate the theft of our trade secrets and intelligence,” US Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a conference in San Francisco.


  • Reuters, with additional editing by Vishakha Saxena


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Ex-Apple Engineer Who Stole Tech For China Now At Baidu – CNBC



Vishakha Saxena

Vishakha Saxena is the Multimedia and Social Media Editor at Asia Financial. She has worked as a digital journalist since 2013, and is an experienced writer and multimedia producer. As a trader and investor, she is keenly interested in new economy, emerging markets and the intersections of finance and society. You can write to her at [email protected]


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