For the second time in six months, the FBI is accusing a Chinese national working for Apple of attempting to steal trade secrets related to the company’s secret autonomous vehicle program, according to a report from NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit.
The article says Apple began investigating Jizhong Chen when another employee reported seeing the engineer taking photographs in a sensitive work space, according to a federal criminal complaint unsealed this week. Chen reportedly allowed Apple Global Security employees to search his personal computer, where they found thousands of files containing Apple’s intellectual property, including manuals, schematics, and diagrams.
NBC Bay Area says Apple learned Chen recently applied for a job at a China-based autonomous vehicle company. A photo found on Chen’s computer, which Apple provided to the FBI, showed an assembly drawing of an Apple-designed wiring harness for an autonomous vehicle.
Last July, the FBI charged former Apple employee Xiaolang Zhang with theft of trade secrets, according to documents filed with the Northern District Court of California. According to a tweet from Oakland-based crime reporter Henry K. Lee, Zhang took secret documents from Apple while on paternity leave, telling authorities that he had placed the data on his wife’s laptop.
He was charged with theft of trade secrets in the U.S. District Court for Northern California. The trade secrets involved Apple’s autonomous vehicle research; apparently, Zhang planned to give them to his new employers, the China-based XMotors.