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Digital Dreams

A few years ago, a local Internet entrepreneur was arrested in Ghana, her employees jailed and her computer equipment confiscated. Her crime? Providing consumers with a way to make low-cost telephone calls over the Internet.

That businesswoman's brush with the law typifies the main reason-aside from low incomes-that bridging the so-called "digital divide" between rich and poor countries is so difficult. It's not a lack of equipment or of local knowledge. No, a large part of the divide is a direct result of domestic policies that suppress Internet and technology use.