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Venezuelan president calls for Internet regulation

Hugo Chavez says "the Internet cannot be something open where anything is said and done" and demands a crackdown on a critical news site.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Saturday called for Internet regulations and demanded that authorities crack down on a news Web site he accused of spreading false information, according to media reports.

"The Internet cannot be something open where anything is said and done. No, every country has to apply its own rules and norms," Chavez said during a televised speech, according to reports by Reuters and the Associated Press.

Chavez singled out Noticiero Digital, a Venezuelan news Web site he said falsely reported the assassination of one of his ministers.

"We have to act. We are going to ask the attorney general for help, because this is a crime. I have information that this page periodically publishes stories calling for a coup d'etat. That cannot be permitted," Chavez reportedly said.

Chavez, who frequently clashes with the media over critical reports and broadcasts, said: "It can't be that they transmit whatever they want poisoning the minds of many people--regulation, regulation, the laws!"

Chavez's comments come as Internet companies grapple with governments over Internet censorship. Google is reportedly close to shutting down its Chinese search engine over long-standing requirements that it filter search results, and amid an investigation into alleged Chinese hacking of prominent U.S. Web properties. A Chinese official warned Google on Friday that should the company stop filtering search results at its Chinese Web site, it "will have to bear the consequences."

The Chinese government also recently announced new Web regulations that will require Web site operators to offer photographs of themselves and to meet Internet service providers in person.

The Iranian government, which has been blamed for blocked text messages and for sluggish Internet speeds in Tehran, has reportedly said it would shut down Google's Gmail and replace it with a national e-mail system.

Meanwhile, Rep. Christopher Smith, a New Jersey Republican, recently announced a bill to give federal grants and prizes to corporations such as Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo to develop "deployable technologies to defeat Internet suppression and censorship."