Trump Pardons The Guy Who Stole Self-Driving Car Secrets From Google’s Waymo


In the final hours of his presidency, Donald Trump issued a total of 73 pardons and 70 commutations, in keeping up with a long-standing tradition for clemency at the White House.

Among the names he pardoned were Steve Bannon, who pleaded not guilty to defrauding donors, as well as former Trump campaign fundraiser Elliot Broidy and rappers Lil Wayne (gun possession charge) and Kodak Black.

Interestingly enough, a pardon was also extended to former Google and Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski, who pleaded guilty last spring to stealing autonomous technology trade secrets from the Google division that would become Waymo, before he founded trucking company Otto and selling it to Uber.

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In August of 2020, Levandowski was sentenced to 18 months in prison, yet wasn’t taken into custody because of the COVID-19 pandemic, reports Reuters. To his relief, it seems that he will no longer have to worry about doing any time behind bars.

According to the White House, Levandowski had “paid a significant price for his actions and plans to devote his talents to advance the public good.”

Meanwhile, Alphabet Inc’s self-driving tech unit Waymo, declined to comment on the matter, even though they previously described Levandowski’s crime as “a betrayal”, calling his sentence “a win for trade secret laws.”

The former Google engineer had transferred more than 14,000 files to his personal laptop before leaving, including development schedules and product designs. This was during his negotiations with Uber, which reportedly did everything they could to ensure that documents from Waymo weren’t brought over.

Even so, the ride hailing giant ended up paying roughly $245 million to Google’s Alphabet as a settlement.

Updated: January 20, 2021 — 1:16 pm

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