Following an accusation last July against an ex-Apple engineer, the FBI has arrested a second Apple employee after he allegedly tried to steal self-driving car technology secrets and leave the country.
The employee is Jizhong Chen, and according to a CNBC report on Wednesday, the FBI arrested him one day before he was scheduled to leave for China. Apple reportedly began investigating Chen when another employee said he or she witnessed him taking photos in a secretive area. Chen then allowed Apple Global Security to search his laptop, where they found thousands of files relating to Apple intellectual property and various photos taken inside an Apple building.
Chen defended the actions and said he backed his work up as an “insurance policy” because he was placed on the company’s Performance Improvement Plan in December. However, the classified information was found prior to his placement on the improvement plan. The company also discovered Chen had applied for a job in China with a self-driving car competitor, and Apple provided a photo of a wiring harness designed for an autonomous vehicle to the FBI as further evidence Chen tried to steal company secrets.
The California-based technology company said it takes its confidentiality and protection of its intellectual property seriously and will continue to work with the FBI on all matters that surround Chen’s case.
Last summer, Apple accused Xiaolang Zhang of making off with trade secrets for its self-driving car project. Zhang allegedly stole information on an Apple-designed chip to control self-driving car systems and fled to China to reportedly start work with a self-driving car startup company.
Apple has been tight-lipped on its plans for self-driving car technology, but its Project Titan workforce has clearly been working on software related to the technology.
The Project Titan team shed about 200 employees last week as new management entered to oversee self-driving car technology projects.