Alberta MPP says he felt compelled to hack into government website and used Prime Minister’s information

An opposition member of the Alberta legislature under investigation by the RCMP after admitting to hacking into a government health website using some of Premier Jason Kenney’s personal information, said he felt responsible for doing so.

Thomas Dang, who was asked by reporters on Tuesday if he admitted to having done something wrong, replied: “No”.

“I think this type of testing is common in the information and cybersecurity field,” Dang said. “My intention has always been, and continues to be, to protect Albertans’ private information.

“I believe it was an obligation I had as an MP.”

Dang, the MP for Edmonton South, declined to say whether he would commit the same cyber offense again if he felt the public interest required it.

He made the comments after publishing a report titled “How I Did It,” which details his role last fall in carrying out the cyber breach of the COVID-19 vaccination passport verification website. government. His report urges the United Conservative Government to do more to protect sensitive information online.

Dang said he conducted the investigation after a constituent warned him about possible loopholes allowing bad actors to access private health information through the vaccine website.

He said when he ran into roadblocks trying to enter the site, he used Kenney’s date of birth and date of vaccination – both publicly available – ultimately allowing him to violate the guarantees of confidentiality of the site.

At that point, Dang said, he immediately stopped the search, notified his NDP caucus team, who in turn notified the government of the security breach, and the breach was corrected shortly. after.

Dang said using Kenney’s details was a reasonable decision to make in the circumstances, given the prime minister has a high profile and could be a target for a hack. He dismissed suggestions that he was engaging in some form of identity theft.

“I didn’t use anyone else’s identity,” Dang said. “I used two pieces of information that are publicly available.”

Dang said he had a certificate in cybersecurity but did not say whether he had any special authority or permission to breach the vaccination passport website.

In December, the RCMP opened an investigation and executed a search warrant as part of Dang’s cyber search. In accordance with NDP policies, Dang stepped down from caucus due to the ongoing investigation and now sits as an independent.

House Government Leader Jason Nixon said he wanted answers about who knew what and when after Dang’s security breach, and whether NDP Leader Rachel Notley or other senior party officials withheld or delayed delivery of sensitive information.

“What MPP Dang admitted today is that an everyday Albertan’s record was breached by the NDP ethics critic because of hacking, which is unacceptable,” Nixon said.

Notley said she asked Dang to stand down as soon as she heard about the investigation and that future decisions on Dang’s role in the caucus would wait after the RCMP investigation.

“Mr. Dang is going to have to answer for himself for the choices he made,” Notley said.

“But I can say that the fact that he has come to the attention of the police, that he is being investigated, disappoints me deeply. That is why we asked him to leave and in no way he won’t be back while it’s an active case.

Dang, a two-term member of the Legislative Assembly, has not confirmed whether he will seek re-election in the spring of 2023 under the NDP banner or as an independent.

NDP nominations are contested and filled right now, and Notley was asked what will happen to Dang as a potential NDP nominee for Edmonton South.

“We will meet with the party executive to make this decision very soon,” she said.

Later Tuesday, Dang’s predicament became the subject of partisan attacks during Question Period in the Legislative Assembly.

Kenney, responding to Notley’s questions about relief for Albertans facing high inflation, urged his opponents to check government policies. But he added, “I know the NDP’s favorite research technique is to hack into people’s private information.

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