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Home > Privacy Fundamentals > Book Reviews > How to Be Invisible

Book Review: How to Be Invisible: The Essential Guide to Protecting Your Personal Privacy, Your Assets, and Your Life, J.J. Luna, New York, NY: St. Martin's Press, 290 pages

In How to Be Invisible, international man of mystery J.J. Luna details all the different ways to protect privacy from prying eyes. Luna has devoted most of his adult life to obscuring himself from various institutions and authorities. He doesn't tell us exactly why. That might compromise his privacy . . . . Get it?

The book is a light and fun read (if you're into this kind of thing), going point-by-point through all the different means that governments, corporations, lawyers, and private detectives use to track and find you, and how to defeat them. Different chapters go into the mail system, using "ghost" addresses, trash and utilities, cell phones, bank accounts and money transfers, computers, and so on.

Without intending to teach broader lessons, the book does. It reveals the high cost of privacy, or at least the high cost of privacy fastidiously kept. Luna takes and recommends some extravagant measures to protect information. He illustrates through example that true privacy is a luxury, and a pricey one when taken to the extreme.

The book does have ideas that can be useful for ordinary people in structuring their financial affairs. Appearing impoverished, or at least not rich, can be very helpful in avoiding lawsuits. Keeping assets in obscure corporations can create the impression of modest means to all but the best investigators. Luna constantly talks about the technique, though he doesn't exactly describe how to do it.

Luna insists on obeying laws, though he does condone selective lying. By repeating his no-law-breaking mantra, he stays on the right side of the line, but he might have a toe or two on the other side. And how couldn't you with the swarm of anti-privacy laws descending on us from all directions?

How to Be Invisible is paranoid fun. If you find yourself practicing all the techniques in the book, you're probably nuts. But, then again, you might just be an international man (or woman) of mystery yourself.


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[updated 06/03/05]

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