Occupy Wall Street Tax Hack

by Bruce Kasanoff on November 10, 2011

Dateline: December 15, 2012

Occupy Wall Street discovers phone hack that changes United States tax rates

In the final analysis, it wasn’t occupying public spaces, spending the winter sleeping in tents, or spawning occupations in over 300 cities worldwide that led Occupy Wall Street to succeed. It was hacking into the cell phone network.

So far as authorities can put together, a fourteen-year-old hacker called Dwiddle developed a scanner that could be pointed by demonstrators at any passerby. Typically, the demonstrators hooked it up to a projector they aimed at sheets taped to the sides of office buildings.

The scanner performed several tasks in the space of a second. It identified a person’s cell phone number, used the number to capture the person’s name and address, then used that information to access public records and credit reports. All of this they translated into a percentage rank – and estimated income figure – which they projected in oversized fashioned onto the wall.

In other words, when a Wall Street banker walked by, the numbers blared something like:

  • A 1 percenter!
  • $2.3 million income
  • 23% paid in taxes

This made pedestrians very uncomfortable. It terrified politicians, who the demonstrators targeted in Washington and in cities around the world. Claiming the top 1% doesn’t pay enough in taxes pales next to saying, “Hey, Jimmy Smith! You are in the top 1%, and you don’t pay enough in taxes!”

The media loved it, and published photos of pinstriped investors walking by giant numbers blaring their wealth levels to the world.

The hack broke the Washington logjam. Trickle-down economics couldn’t survive the assault, and the Republicans caved. They repealed the Bush tax cuts and even agreed to increase taxes on the top 5%, yes 5%, of wage earners.

Rumor has it that Dwiddle attempted to submit his hack for extra credit in his social studies class, but ended up getting suspended for breaking the school’s Acceptable Internet Usage policy. He did, however, manage to reduce the U.S. deficit.

Written by Bruce Kasanoff of Now Possible, where science fiction meets business.

Previous post:

Next post: