“Turkey is emblematic of the promise of the digital revolution that is now sweeping through similarly emerging middle-income democracies around the world. Yet its approach to expanding internet penetration is shaped by its own set of political and social conditions. Wider internet access and use could contribute to a more dynamic Turkish economy that is driven by greater online competition and entrepreneurship. Turkey could likewise provide more efficient, responsive government services to more of its citizens by harnessing information and telecommunications technologies. But the efforts to reap these rewards are hindered by wide disparities in internet access and online literacy, as well as by very different customs that divide men and women, the old and the young, and urban and rural citizens. These divides are evident in the nation’s digital disparities and have roots in the country’s recent political history and social norms. At first glance, Turkey’s rapid but uneven economic development over the past several decades—with all of the accompanying social fissures—is akin to the experiences of other developing nations such as Albania, Chile, or Brazil. And Turkey, like other emerging middleincome democracies, is grappling with the need to privatize the internet and communications industries, which are often powerful political players with deep ties to ruling parties and with little interest in fostering serious online competition….
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