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The United States FBI this week accused a Chinese citizen working for Apple of attempting to steal trade secrets that are related to the company's autonomous vehicle program, reports NBC Bay Area.

Apple launched an investigation into the employee, Jizhong Chen, when another employee spotted him taking photographs "in a sensitive work space." Apple Global Security employees searched his personal computer and found "thousands" of Apple files, including manuals, schematics, photographs, and diagrams.

lexussuvselfdriving2-800x511.jpg

Chen had recently applied for a position with a China-based autonomous vehicle company that is a direct Apple competitor. Chen was arrested a day before he was set to fly to China. Apple in a statement said that it is working with the authorities.
"Apple takes confidentiality and the protection of our IP very seriously," the company said in a statement Tuesday. "We are working with authorities on this matter and are referring all questions to the FBI."
Interestingly, at least one of the photographs Chen took depicted an assembly drawing of an Apple-designed wiring harness for an autonomous vehicle, suggesting Apple's work does indeed go beyond simple autonomous software.

Apple's autonomous car plans have been up in the air for the last few years because the project has been restructured several times, has been put under new leadership, and many employees have been laid off or moved to other areas of the company.

There has been some question as to whether the Cupertino company is still planning a full autonomous car or if its focus has shifted to autonomous software, but the most recent rumors indicate a car is in the works with a launch planned for 2023 to 2025.

This is not the first time an employee has been caught trying to steal secrets from Apple's car team. Back in July, the FBI charged former Apple employee Xiaolang Zhang with theft of trade secrets for stealing hardware and software that included prototypes and detailed prototype requirements.

Article Link: Second Apple Employee Accused of Stealing Apple Car Details
 

gavroche

macrumors 65816
Oct 25, 2007
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It’s interesting… But isn’t reassigning and shifting employees from one project to a completely unrelated project a traditional sly a method to avoid any particular employee knowing too much about a possible project… To prevent information from leaking out?

Edit: As opposed to the reassignments suggesting that the project is or has been axed or downscaled.
 
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Mike_Trivisonno

Contributor
Jul 11, 2015
305
725
What? China engaged in corporate espionage? No way!

Also, Lexus, and parent company Toyota, refuse to use Apple's CarPlay. Maybe use a different brand of automobile for these articles.
 
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Rogifan

macrumors Core
Nov 14, 2011
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Of course Apple’s plans go beyond autonomous software. Tim can get get away with saying something generic like Apple is interested in autonomous systems. But he’s never going to reveal Apple is working on a car while it’s still in the vaporware stage.
 
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mcalict

macrumors member
Jan 11, 2013
47
76
It’s interesting… But isn’t reassigning and shifting employees from one project to a completely unrelated project a traditional sly a method to avoid any particular employee knowing too much about a possible project… To prevent information from leaking out?

Edit: As opposed to the reassignments suggesting that the project is or has been axed or downscaled.

Don't follow. What does that have to do with this? He worked in that group. He stole secrets from that project. Whether he was moved around or not wouldn't have mattered.
 
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gavroche

macrumors 65816
Oct 25, 2007
1,391
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Don't follow. What does that have to do with this? He worked in that group. He stole secrets from that project. Whether he was moved around or not wouldn't have mattered.

Sorry, was a tangent thought. The article mentioned that it’s long been rumored that the Apple car project was either canceled or has been seriously downgraded to just software… And a basis for that speculation was that the teams have been re-organized, and a lot of employees have been reassigned to other parts of Apple. It just seems to me that they could actually just be a method of keeping more employees from knowing how serious the plans are or are not.
 
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CalvinBroadus

Suspended
Jan 24, 2019
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Russia
I guess moral of the story here is:
If you’re going to steal top secret intellectual property from a multi-billion dollar corporation, maybe don’t just stand around taking pictures in restricted areas.

Smart.
 
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iPhysicist

macrumors 65816
Nov 9, 2009
1,335
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Dresden
What did happen:
"Apple launched an investigation into the employee, Jizhong Chen, when another employee spotted him taking photographs using a Huawei P20 Pro instead of his employer provided iPhone XR."
 
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frifra

macrumors 6502a
Nov 29, 2008
784
469
Of course Apple’s plans go beyond autonomous software. Tim can get get away with saying something generic like Apple is interested in autonomous systems. But he’s never going to reveal Apple is working on a car while it’s still in the vaporware stage.
Can he not? But they can with so many things. AirPower...
 
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