US use of Vietnam website 'under review'

Associated Press Modified: October 31, 2012 at 3:00 pm •  Published: October 31, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department said Wednesday it is reviewing a U.S. Embassy's use of a wildly popular Vietnamese website laden with suspected pirated music and Hollywood movies to promote American values, including respect for intellectual property rights.

Spokesman Mark Toner said the Hanoi embassy's social media account with was created to reach out to Vietnamese youth in a restricted environment but that concerns about digital piracy on the site had prompted it to reconsider.

"Vietnam is a demanding environment for public diplomacy and for reaching appropriate audiences on any given bilateral or multilateral issue," Toner told reporters. He said the embassy started its "Zingme" account "as a way to deliver important messages on a range of bilateral and multilateral issues, including intellectual property rights."

"That said, I can say that the use of this particular site is now under review," Toner said. He added that the review was being conducted because "some of the contents of this website are suspect and run counter to our Internet freedom policy."

He could not say when the review would be completed.

The Associated Press reported on Monday that the embassy's use of the Zingme account had raised questions about whether Washington is legitimizing a site suspected of violating intellectual property rights that the U.S. vocally supports.

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