MCI's response to PQ on the Ashley Madison website

Parliament Sitting on 11 November 2013

QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER

*1573. Mr Seah Kian Peng: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information in light of a planned launch of a Canadian-based extramarital dating website in Singapore next year, whether the Ministry will (i) allow the website to be hosted here; (ii) block the site if it is hosted overseas; and (iii) permit publicity or advertisements for the business.

*1576. Ms Denise Phua Lay Peng: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information if the Ministry will block the Ashley Madison website or other online services of the same nature which target persons already in relationships and openly glorify and promote infidelity including extramarital affairs.

Response:

    The Government adopts a pragmatic and light-touch approach to regulating Internet content. The Internet Code of Practice allows MDA to work with Internet Service Providers to block certain sites which contain prohibited content.  We recognize that site blocking is not a perfect way of denying access to prohibited content, as it can be circumvented.  Besides, there are many sites with undesirable content on the Internet and it is not practical to block every one of them.  The Media Development Authority (MDA) therefore blocks a limited number of sites as a symbolic statement of the types of content which the community is opposed to.

2    The Ashley Madison website, however, stands out. It aggressively encourages and facilitates extramarital affairs and has declared that it will specifically target Singaporeans. For example, itsfounder gave an interview to a local newspaper and according to reports intends to fly into Singapore to launch the Singapore site in the week of 17 November.

3    It is against the public interest to allow Ashley Madison to promote its website in flagrant disregard of our family values and public morality. We will therefore not allow Ashley Madison to operate in Singapore and have worked with the Internet Service Providers to block access to the site. 

4    Besides Ashley Madison, there are many other websites available on the Internet which promote non-monogamous relationships and extra-marital affairs. It is not possible for the MDA to block every such website.

5    The member also asked whether we would permit publicity or advertisements for such services. Advertising in Singapore is largely self-regulated by the industry through the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS), an advisory council to the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE). MDA will work with ASAS to discourage advertisements of such services. In the case of Ashley Madison, it is unlikely that it will be taking up any advertisements in our local media now that access to its site has been blocked.

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