The Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Commerce (DOC) launched a new strike force on Tuesday, charging a former Apple engineer with theft and attempted theft of trade secrets as part of its first enforcement activities.
The Disruptive Technology Strike Force, a collaboration between the Department of Justice's National Security Division and the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security, laid the groundwork for the indictment of Weibao Wang, who is accused of stealing Apple technology related to autonomous systems and fleeing to China to work for a competitor with that information. According to the agency, Wang faces six accusations connected to the six categories of trade secrets he allegedly stole or attempted to steal.
The case was one of five publicised by the Justice Department as the first batch to involve the Disruptive Technology Strike Force, which was founded in February. The strike force works to keep important technical assets in the United States from being acquired or utilised by nation-state adversaries.
“These cases demonstrate the breadth and complexity of the threats we face, as well as what is at stake,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew Olsen in remarks. “They show our ability to accelerate investigations and surge our collective resources to defend against these threats.”
In the Wang case, the engineer was found to have "accessed large amounts of sensitive proprietary and confidential information in the days leading up to his departure from Apple" between 2016 and 2018. Law enforcement officers uncovered the material during a check of his home, after which he informed authorities that he would not leave the country. According to the DOJ, that night he bought a one-way ticket to China with the stolen information in tow.
Apple could not be reached for comment right away.
The DOJ also announced four other enforcement actions, including another case involving a software engineer allegedly stealing source code from two former US employers to market to Chinese competitors, two cases involving the disruption of alleged procurement networks established to assist the Russian military in obtaining sensitive technology, and a case involving a Chinese procurement network established to allegedly provide Iran with materials used in weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles.
By fLEXI tEAM