Alberta MLA fined for hacking government vaccine website
An independent Alberta MP was ordered to pay $1,500 for every day he spent trying to break into the province’s vaccination portal to prove the website wasn’t perfectly secure, a judge ruled on Tuesday.
In total, Thomas Dang – who quit the Alberta NDP caucus when the RCMP began investigating the incident – is to pay a total of $6,000, plus a victim fine surcharge of $1,200, to here on June 30, 2023.
Judge Michelle Doyle called the sentence fair given the seriousness of Dang’s actions, which she said could upend public expectations about the security of their private records.
However, she noted that Dang believed he was acting in the service of the public, although Doyle said he « lost sight of the larger context of his conduct » and called his website hack « an effort back to protect the privacy of others ».
Dang did not speak to the media Tuesday after the sentencing. A spokesperson for his team said they believe the punishment was « fair » and that Dang « looks forward to putting this matter behind him so he can focus on representing his constituents for the rest of his term. » tenure and start planning the next chapter of his career. »
Dang says he was contacted in September 2021 by a voter concerned about Alberta’s online vaccination portal, which members of the public used to check their vaccination status to access public spaces during the peak of COVID-19 measures.
Dang says he used then-Prime Minister Jason Kenney’s date of birth and vaccination status, which were already public, to run a computer script for four days that tested the portal’s security.
According to an agreed statement of facts, Dang accessed the vaccination records of a person called « Ms. AB » before contacting her caucus with her findings.
He did not need access to a stranger’s records to prove concern and it betrayed the trust placed in him as an MP, the judge ruled on Tuesday.
Dang was charged under the Health Information Act and pleaded guilty in early November.
He has served as an independent member representing Edmonton South since leaving the NDP in December 2021. He said he does not plan to seek re-election in the spring 2023 vote.
Dang is 27 and says he graduated in 2022 with a Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security from Western Governors University and a University Certificate in Computer Science and Information Systems from Athabasca University.
With files from The Canadian Press and David Ewasuk and Sean Amato of CTV News Edmonton