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Arguably, the only way to keep your data truly safe and secure and private these days is to stay far away from any electronic devices other than a toaster. And even the toaster is suspect at this point.

But if you’re like most people, you need the Internet to do your job, and you like the Internet to keep in touch with family and friends, and you at least don’t mind the Internet when it comes to consuming media via Netflix, Hulu, etc.

So, how do you keep what you need and want while mitigating the undeniable fact that web services have a lot of dirt on you?

We’re so glad you asked. Here are a few handy hints for keeping your Internet usage and data more or less private from any prying eyes that happen to be snooping around.

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Editor’s note added 9pm Pacific: Most of this advice seems solid, but two suggestions — Hushmail and Cryptocat — are bad advice, pure and simple. HushMail may unlock customers’ emails in response to government subpoenas, while CryptoCat has come under fire for a “rookie mistake” in its encryption.

But seriously: If you’re after true, gold-star privacy, just pull the plug on your Internet connection and plan a nice, restful retirement to your cabin in the woods.

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