Trump Pardons Silicon Valley Engineer Convicted of Stealing Google’s Trade Secrets

In one of his final acts in office, President Donald Trump pardoned a former Google engineer convicted of stealing trade secrets for Uber.

Anthony Levandowski worked for Google’s self-driving car division before leaving to start his own company, Otto, which was snapped up by Uber.

After Google sued Levandowski for illegally downloading thousands of files to his laptop before his departure, Uber fired him.

What followed was an epic legal showdown that culminated with Levandowski pleading guilty to stealing just one proprietary Google document. Prosecutors, in exchange, agreed to drop the rest of the charges filed against him.

Last year, at the U.S. District Court in San Jose, Hon. William Alsup sentenced the engineer to a year-and-a-half in prison for what the judge described as the “biggest trade secret crime I have ever seen.”

Levandowski is still battling Uber in court, claiming he’s entitled to the $179 million Alsup ordered he pony up to Google. In a separate lawsuit, he argues that the ride-hailing company also owes him billions of dollars more in lost value from the Otto acquisition.

The ex-Googler never began serving his sentence, which the court tabled indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to an announcement from the White House Tuesday, the decision to pardon Levandowski came in part from advocacy on his behalf by several  high-profile Silicon Valley figures, including billionaire investor Peter Thiel and fellow Founders Fund partner Trae Stephens, among others.

In addition to Levandowski, Trump this week has pardoned more than 70 people and commuted sentences for as many more, including rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black, as well as former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.

6 Comments

  1. It goes to show that “trade secrets” in the Trump administration was not protected.

    Trump simply did this because he hated Google, not because this thief deserved it.

    I am an IT Security professional and this act just set back IT Security 20 years because now Trump SOLD a pardon, in effect trashing the investigation and prosecution of IT Security laws.

    It goes both ways, meaning now if your “Friends” are damaged by a IT Thief, your friends will not get the proper prosecutions for your loss of trade secrets.

    But most people, especially Trump supporters, don’t understand that half of this coin.

  2. > I am an IT Security professional and this act just set back IT Security 20 years because now Trump SOLD a pardon, in effect trashing the investigation and prosecution of IT Security laws.

    Dear IT Security Professional:

    1. What does the Hursti Hack show?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hursti_Hack

    2. Can Dominion Voting Systems be hacked?

    3. Would anyone ever want to hack a voting system or machine?

    From the holy and infallible New York Times:

    https://www.foxnews.com/media/new-york-times-previously-sounded-alarm-on-how-easily-electronic-voting-machines-can-be-hacked

  3. Felix,
    Like a broken clock your right twice a day. The richest and most powerful corporations in history have broken the trust of the American people and in crushing Free Speech and creating the most powerful Anti-Democratic Fascist Country in history. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Repeal Section 230.
    They don’t need protection any more.

  4. M.T. Gun,

    Be careful if you point your M.T. Gun at a cop, they will likely shoot you.

    What if the clock is an led or lcd that the power supply failed, then the broken clock will never be correct?

    Where anyone owns their own servers, software, networking and has a proper ISP contract where they pay for unrestricted access, they are free to say anything they want.

    But if your using another’s Internet infrastructure, they have to arrange contracts according to public policies And if the law does require that all reasonable steps are taken to prevent either cyber threats, real threats, or being used to coordinate actual violent acts, that is where the platforms can get into legal trouble.

    Section 230 does not prevent a platform from being legally liable for the conduct of users on the platforms actually. That is why they are being “forced” by users conduct to take the actions they are doing today.

  5. Not sure how Levandowski got on Trumps radar, but I would guess that it was Jared’s handiwork in finding a suitable candidate that would pay well to avoid the inconvenience of prison time. That seemed to be the only notable talent Jared had, searching for any angle that would financially benefit his family.

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