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Dutch MP must cough €750 for hacking into medical lab

'Public interest was served' but he didn't need to access so many files

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A Dutch MP has been fined €750 (£650, $1,000) after he was convicted of illegally accessing the systems of a Dutch medical laboratory.

Henk Krol claims he only accessed the systems of Diagnostics for You in order to expose sloppy security practices. The MP, who is the leader of Dutch minority pensioners party, 50plus, used a login and password that he had obtained from a patient at the clinic in April last year to access and download medical files relating to several people. The patient had apparently overheard the login information from a member of staff.

The journalist and politician informed the laboratory about its inadequate security, and presented redacted copies of the medical information he had obtained. He also reported the incident to local TV station Omroep Brabant, carrying out an on-air demonstration of the lab's lax security practices during which medical records were again accessed.

Krol, former editor-in-chief of the newspaper Gay Krant, hacked into the system just months before he was elected to the Dutch parliament last September. The politician told the court that he had acted as a journalist and ethical hacker at the time of the breach.

A district court in the southeastern region of Oost-Brabant partially accepted the public interest defence of Krol's legal team, which argued that he was serving the greater good by exposing problems in the protection of confidential, medical data. But the court also considered that he had not given the lab enough time to fix the problem before going public when it issued his sentence. It also took issue with the "disproportionate" amount of records he accessed, saying he had gone "further than necessary" to achieve his aim. The court said it was lenient as it did not believe Krol was likely to repeat the offence.

The patient who initially tipped him off about the problem was fined €250 (£215, $330), IDG reports.

The court's judgment can be found here (PDF). A Google translation is here. ®

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