Alberta MLA Thomas Dang charged with Health Information Act breach, could face $200K fine

An Alberta legislature member investigated by the RCMP after admitting to hacking into a government health website is being charged under the province’s Health Information Act.

The Alberta RCMP Cybercrime Investigative Team says it has charged Thomas Dang for illegally attempting to access private information contained in the Alberta Health vaccine portal.

If convicted, the second-term MLA for Edmonton-South could face a fine up to $200,000.

He is scheduled to appear in court July 27.

RCMP announced the charge in a release Friday. 

No criminal charge

Dang had been under criminal investigation since last November, when RCMP said it received information about suspicious activity related to the vaccination records portal.

Leah Ward, a media spokesperson for Dang, said he was notified last week that he wouldn’t be charged with a criminal offence. 

“[There’s] a bit of relief around the information he received last week through his lawyer, who was informed by the crown that the criminal investigation was over and that there will be no criminal charges,” Ward told CBC News Friday. 

The RCMP searched Dang’s residence on Dec. 21. Police investigated after Dang admitted to using his computer to follow up on a tip from a constituent about possible loopholes that were allowing access to people’s private health information on the province’s COVID-19 vaccine records website.

He later said that when he ran into roadblocks trying to breach the vaccination site, he used Premier Jason Kenney’s birth date and vaccination dates — both publicly available — which allowed him to breach the site’s privacy safeguards.

Dang resigned from the NDP caucus when he became aware of the RCMP probe in December 2021 and has been sitting in the House as an Independent MLA. 

After news last week that he wouldn’t be charged with a criminal offence, Dang sent a letter to NDP caucus chair Joe Ceci requesting permission to rejoin the NDP caucus.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley released a statement shortly after.

“I will be reviewing the new information submitted by Thomas Dang and consulting with my colleagues before making a decision on whether he can return to our caucus.”

Notley said the party’s executive will consider the information before deciding whether Dang will be allowed to seek the NDP nomination in Edmonton-South.

Brad Rutherford, the UCP’s Chief Government Whip, said in a release that Dang should resign.

“Thomas Dang’s behaviour has been disgraceful, and it has culminated in these RCMP charges,” he said. 

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