Edmonton MLA Says Cleared of Hacking Charges; seeks return to NDP caucus

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EDMONTON — A member of the Alberta Legislature investigated by the RCMP after admitting he hacked into a government health website said he was acquitted of criminal charges.

Thomas Dang says in a statement he will instead have to pay a yet-to-be-determined fine for violating the Health Information Act.

Dang was removed from the NDP faction when charges were brought in December 2021.

He has sat in the house as an independent but says he wants to return to the caucus.

When asked in Calgary, NDP chair Rachel Notley said she was not aware of the development but would receive more information and discuss it with the caucus and the party.

She had said that Dang, who represents the Edmonton-South constituency, would not be allowed to sit on the caucus or run for the party in the next election while a police investigation was ongoing.

“I am pleased to put this matter behind me and I am grateful to the RCMP and the Crown Prosecutor for working quickly to achieve this resolution,” Dang said in his statement released on Thursday.

“I learned a lot from this experience and I will definitely do things differently in the future if similar concerns or issues are brought to my attention.”

RCMP spokesman Fraser Logan said he could not confirm details of the case but the investigation had been referred to prosecutors.

Dang is a second-term member of the Legislature.

He was charged after admitting to using his computer to follow up a tip from a voter about possible loopholes allowing access to people’s private health information on the province’s COVID-19 vaccine website.

He later said that when he encountered roadblocks trying to breach the vaccination site, he used Prime Minister Jason Kenney’s date of birth and vaccination dates – both publicly available – which allowed him to breach the site’s privacy protections.

At that point, Dang said he immediately stopped the search and informed the NDP faction, who in turn informed the government of the security breach. It was fixed soon after.

Dang said using Kenney’s data was a sensible decision given the circumstances, as the premier has a high reputation and could be a target for hacking.

He dismissed suggestions that he engaged in some form of identity theft.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on June 16, 2022.

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