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MLA Dang ordered to pay $7,200 for breaching Alberta vaccine portal


An Independent Alberta MLA has been ordered to pay $1,500 for each day he spent trying to break into the province's vaccine portal to prove the website wasn't perfectly secure, a judge ruled on Tuesday.

In total, Thomas Dang – who left the Alberta NDP caucus when RCMP began investigating the incident – has to pay $6,000 in total, as well as a $1,200 victim surcharge fee, by June 30, 2023.

Judge Michelle Doyle called it a fit sentence given the gravity of Dang's actions, which she said had the potential to upend the public's expectation for their private records to be held securely.

However, she noted Dang believed he was acting in service of the public, although Doyle said he "lost sight of the larger context of his conduct" and called his hacking of the website "a backwards effort to protect the privacy of others."

Dang did not speak to media on Tuesday after the sentencing. A spokesperson from his team said they believe the penalty is "fair" and that Dang "is looking forward to putting this matter behind him so he can focus on representing his constituents for the remainder of his term and begin planning the next chapter of his career."

Dang claims he was contacted in September 2021 by a constituent with concerns about Alberta's online vaccine portal, which members of the public used to verify their vaccine status for access to public spaces during the peak of COVID-19 measures.

Dang says he used then-premier Jason Kenney's birth date and his 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 his caucus with his findings.

He did not need to access a stranger's records to prove the concern and doing so betrayed the trust he was given as an MLA, the judge said on Tuesday.

Dang was charged under the Health Information Act and pleaded guilty in early November.

He has sat as an Independent member representing Edmonton-South since leaving the NDP in December 2021. He has said he does not plan to seek re-election in the spring 2023 vote. 

Dang is 27 and says he earned in 2022 a Bachelor of Science in cybersecurity from Western Governors University and a university certificate in computing and information systems from Athabasca University.

With files from The Canadian Press and CTV News Edmonton's David Ewasuk and Sean Amato Top Stories

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