The Department of Justice’s Disruptive Technology Strike Force announced five new cases aimed at tech espionage by hostile nation-states.
The Disruptive Technology Strike Force was formed “to counter efforts by hostile nation-states to illicitly acquire sensitive U.S. technology to advance their authoritarian regimes and facilitate human rights abuses.” As part of its efforts, the strike force announced five new cases and four arrests.
According to the press release, two of the cases involved helping Russia acquire restricted technology, while two others involved helping China acquire US tech. A fifth case involved assisting China’s efforts to aid Iran in acquiring materials for WMDs.
One of the cases that have caught the public’s eye the most is the one involving a former Apple engineer accused of stealing autonomous vehicle secrets for China.
In the Northern District of California, a citizen of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and former Apple engineer is accused of allegedly stealing thousands of documents containing the source code for software and hardware pertaining to Apple’s autonomous vehicle technology. This defendant fled to China and is believed to be working for a PRC-based autonomous vehicle competitor.
Government officials touted the cases as evidence of the ongoing need to counter efforts by nation-states to illegally acquire advanced tech.
“These charges demonstrate the Justice Department’s commitment to preventing sensitive technology from falling into the hands of foreign adversaries, including Russia, China, and Iran,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “We will not tolerate those who would violate U.S. laws to allow authoritarian regimes and other hostile nations to use advanced technology to threaten U.S. national security and undermine democratic values around the world.”
“Protecting sensitive American technology – like source code for ‘smart’ automotive manufacturing equipment or items used to develop quantum cryptography – from being illegally acquired by our adversaries is why we stood up the Disruptive Technology Strike Force,” said Matthew S. Axelrod, Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement at the Department of Commerce. “The Strike Force actions announced today reflect the core mission of our Export Enforcement team – keeping our country’s most sensitive technologies out of the world’s most dangerous hands.”