Adultery site's local portal loses '75%' traffic after Government ban: Ashley Madison CEO

Posed photograph of a person typing on a computer keyboard. The Government's decision to block the local website of Ashley Madison is apparently working, with the extramarital dating service's founder complaining that web traffic to his site has fall
Posed photograph of a person typing on a computer keyboard. The Government's decision to block the local website of Ashley Madison is apparently working, with the extramarital dating service's founder complaining that web traffic to his site has fallen by more than 75 per cent. -- NP FILE PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

The Government's decision to block the local website of Ashley Madison is apparently working, with the extramarital dating service's founder complaining that web traffic to his site has fallen by more than 75 per cent.

Still smarting from the ban, chief executive Noel Biderman accused the Government of being "anti-competitive". "This represents potential lost revenue in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions," said the 42-year-old in a statement on Saturday.

The Canadian was reacting to news that another extramarital website for "cheaters" had launched here on Wednesday, and reportedly seen more than 400 people sign up thus far.

"The Government's actions are a futile attempt at social engineering and will have absolutely no impact on divorce rates or infidelity in Singapore," he said, referring to Minister for Communications and Information, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim's parliamentary reply on Monday that said it is not practical for authorities to block every website that promotes extra-marital affairs.

The Media Development Authority of Singapore had said on Nov 8 that it has worked with Internet service providers to block access to Ashley Madison, because it "aggressively promotes and facilitates extramarital affairs and has declared that it will specifically target Singaporeans". The authority added that a limited number of websites - mostly pornographic - are blocked as a "symbolic statement of the types of content which the community is opposed to".

Ashley Madison reached Asia this year, first with a Japan site in June, followed by a Hong Kong site in August. But many Singaporeans, including Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing and other community leaders have taken umbrage with the site. Almost 27,300 people have shown their opposition by supporting a "Block Ashley Madison - Singapore" Facebook page.

waltsim@sph.com.sg