Former Google Employee Charged with AI Theft and Alleged Collaboration with Chinese Firms

The Justice Department has charged Linwei Ding, a former Google software engineer, with stealing artificial intelligence (AI) technology from Google and secretly collaborating with two Chinese companies. Ding, a 38-year-old Chinese national, was arrested in Newark, California, facing four counts of federal trade secret theft, each carrying a potential sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

According to the indictment in the Northern District of California, Ding, employed by Google since 2019, uploaded hundreds of files to a personal Google Cloud account two years ago. These files contained confidential information about Google’s supercomputing data centers. After the theft, Ding was offered the position of chief technology officer at a Chinese tech company specializing in AI and also served as the CEO of a China-based startup focused on training large AI models.


Google officials uncovered Ding’s activities when he appeared as the CEO of one of the Chinese companies at an investor conference in Beijing three days after resigning from Google. Surveillance footage revealed that Ding’s access badge was scanned by another employee, creating a false impression of his presence at the Google building during times he was actually in China.

Concerns have been raised about the potential misuse of AI technologies by foreign adversaries, and the Justice Department is actively addressing such issues through initiatives like the Disruptive Technology Strike Force. FBI Director Christopher Wray highlighted the seriousness of the charges, emphasizing the lengths some affiliates of Chinese companies are willing to go to steal American innovation, posing threats to economic and national security.

Note: As the events unfold, it is uncertain whether Ding has legal representation at this time.

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