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The Basics

When you use the Internet for things like news, email, social media, and even Monero, you are most likely using a clearnet connection. This means that all of your connections can be tracked, traced, and monitored by:

  • your ISP

  • the website/service/person you're communicating with

  • possibly a Five Eyes capable entity

and even if you use HTTPS or similar (which encrypts your transmission), your route is not hidden nor is it anonymous, thus; it is in the clear.

In-depth information

Since a traditional VPN cannot save you from clearnet (as you are still using clearnet (though you are more proxied than without a VPN)), you should use an anonymous overlay network to avoid using clearnet directly:

These technologies protect you from clearnet by building an anonymous network over clearnet to keep your transmissions both encrypted and anonymous.

Here is an accurate, interactive diagram provided by the EFF which describes clearnet as it relates to Tor. The concept also (somewhat) applies to I2P in terms of anonymity with the exception that your traffic never need to leave the I2P network

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