Cheat site 'won't let members down'

SINGAPORE - Dating website Ashley Madison aims to speak to the authorities here to review the ban slapped on it last week.

In an e-mail interview with My Paper, its chief executive, Mr Noel Biderman, said that he is "committed to persevering in Singapore" and "will not let those potential members down".

"There was no formal communication with regard to the nature of our service before a decision...was undertaken," said the 42-year-old, who noted that the website did not face any ban in other countries.

On Friday, the Media Development Authority (MDA) said that it has worked with Internet service providers to block access to the Canada-based website, which promotes extramarital affairs.

The MDA said that the ban was because the site "aggressively promotes and facilitates extramarital affairs and has declared that it will specifically target Singaporeans".

Ashley Madison, which claims to have about 22 million users in more than 30 countries, was planning to launch in Singapore by the week of Nov 17.

It faced protests from the public here, with over 27,000 likes on a Facebook page, "Block Ashley Madison - Singapore".

Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing also expressed his disapproval in a Facebook post, stating that "promoting infidelity undermines trust and commitment between a husband and wife, which are core to marriage".

After the ban was announced, the company reportedly said that it was consulting its legal advisers to determine its legal right to challenge the move.

But lawyers here said that it would be an uphill task. Lawyer Gloria James said: "His legal team will have to take an action under judicial review. He will need to show that the exercise of the decision to ban his website was a violation of his rights.

"But what the Government did is within the MDA's powers to censor or ban what is deemed immoral and wrong for a society where family values and marriage are placed as top priority."

Lawyer Steven Lam said: "A judicial review is taken when the Government's action is irrational, illegal or irregular. But it will be difficult for them to succeed if the Government's actions are properly taken."

Get My Paper for more stories.