Conversations about life & privacy in the digital age

AMA: Interview with International Privacy Consultant JJ Luna

After our popular interview with cryptographer and computer security expert Jon Callas earlier this summer, we wanted to talk to more experts who were publicly passionate about privacy.

Meet JJ Luna – an international privacy consultant and author of the best-selling book How to Be Invisible. He’s spent more than five decades living off the grid, and helps his clients on topics such as home security, senior self defense, making money and living a truly private life. If you’re interested, you can read specific examples of his consulting work and the kinds of people he has helped here.

We were honored to have JJ Luna (aka Jack) answer a few questions about why he had to live a double life and protect his identity and his family’s safety, his views on U.S. current events regarding privacy and security, and his advice for average citizens.

How did you come to care so much about privacy? What put you on this path? Have you always valued privacy, or was there an incident that led you to be become so knowledgable and immersed in privacy?

JJL: Under the direction of an international Bible and Tract Society, I volunteered to move overseas. In 1959, therefore I moved to Spain’s Canary Islands with my wife and small children via a Norwegian freighter. At this time Spain was ruled by the dictator Francisco Franco and Catholicism was the state religion. All others were illegal. For that reason I had to live a double life. Openly, I was a commercial photographer. Secretly, under another name, I helped hold illegal meetings in private homes and VERY illegal assemblies deep in  pine forests. Eleven years later, Franco was pressured into allowing other religions in Spain, so I was then free to come in from the cold. However, I had gotten to enjoy hiding information so I continued, to a large extent, to stay private.

What are some simple precautions you would encourage the average US citizen to take (and why), for those who might not know a lot about privacy and why it is important?

JJL: It is not “simple.” I wrote an entire book on that subject, How to be Invisible.  The theme is basically to hide your home address. That way, if for any reason someone decides to go after you (this happens all the time!), they will have a hard time finding you. The benefit? You sleep well at night!

But essentially:

  1. Stop using credit cards. Pay cash.
  2. Never borrow money. Rent if you cannot buy.
  3. Never use a driver’s license for ID–use only a passport.
  4. If you are wealthy, hide that fact!*

For many of us, privacy in important because of what we own, where we live, and what we do – this is no one else’s business. Further, anyone can sue anyone in the [Canary Islands]. The ones chosen to be sued have “deep pockets.” Why advertise that fact?

*For more on hiding your wealth, you can buy JJ’s ebook, Invisible Money, Hidden Assets, Secret Accounts. Special SpiderOakian offer – get 75% off the Premium ebook with code: Jack15. You will receive $15 off, for a net of $4.99. This code will only work for 15 days after this post is published. If you have any trouble, please email JJ Luna directly at jack[at]jjluna[dot]com. (Unfortunately the Kindle price cannot be discounted.)

As an expert in this area, how have you seen the public conversation and awareness around privacy change over the past few decades? How has it also physically changed for you, with technology, etc.

JJL: Since 9/11, there is an increasing desire for privacy but it is harder and harder to accomplish. I find it increasingly difficult to keep information about me out of the internet.

Would you weigh in on the current Snowden/NSA/Prism situation and the ‘state of the nation’ in general, where it pertains to online and offline privacy?

JJL: Snowden? Mixed emotions. The government does need to know what the enemy is doing. I doubt that WWII could have been won without the allies reading both German and Japanese communications. However, I do not trust this present administration in any way, shape or form. In many ways, life under Franco was better than this!

What is something that surprises you, or that you continue to learn, in your line of work and its role in our world?

JJL: I am increasingly surprised that nothing can remain secret from the United States government. The government keeps secrets but the citizens are not allowed to do so?

A huge thanks to Jack for sharing his time and expertise with us. Stay up to date by following his blog and tweets. And you can learn How to Be Invisible (which has been read and enjoyed by many people within SpiderOak) too.



  1. Gift Credit Cards says:

    What about using cash to buy those “gift” credit cards sold in stores (e.g., a “Visa Gift Card”)?

  2. Alan says:

    Just wanted to mention that I really enjoyed reading JJ Luna’s “How to Be Invisible” (3rd edition was recently published.) It’s a few hundred pages, explaining all about the tactics companies and even private investigators use to track you, learn as much as they can about you, where you are living, etc. and how to protect your privacy against those systemic or individual intrusions.

    There’s a variety of small things you can do to avoid them. Luna outlines a few levels of privacy that you can achieve with increasing amounts of effort. The intro levels that give you a better real life privacy than 99% of people are almost effortless once you get the hang of it.

    Reading the book to understand the mindset was valuable. In many ways it’s similar to the mindset of an information security researcher.