October 25, 2013 / 4:31 PM / 5 years ago

Singapore to scrutinize popular adultery website

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore said on Friday it would consider growing public complaints against infidelity website AshleyMadison.com when deciding whether to allow the platform to operate.

Scrutiny of the site, which has 22 million members in about 30 countries, forms part of a wider debate over censorship in Singapore. The city state bans Playboy magazine, removes racy scenes from movies and blocks dozens of websites, in moves that have added to its image as Asia’s “nanny state”.

AshleyMadison.com, founded in Canada in 2001, began a Japanese service in June and a Hong Kong service last month. Its operators have announced plans to launch next year in Singapore, which has a population of 5.4 million.

“I do not welcome such a website in Singapore,” Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing wrote on his Facebook page.

“Promoting infidelity undermines trust and commitment between a husband and wife, which are core to marriage,” he said, adding that many Singaporeans shared his view.

AshleyMadison.com’s operators have said the site does not make people cheat but rather provides a platform for those who have already decided to have an affair.

Singapore once banned women’s magazine Cosmopolitan and the television show “Sex and the City”, though a censored version of the hit HBO series was eventually allowed.

Responding to media queries, Singapore’s Media Development Authority (MDA) said it was mindful of “growing public sentiments” towards AshleyMadison.com. “MDA will take these into account when evaluating the site,” it said.

“Under the Broadcasting Act, MDA has the powers to act against internet content providers which violate community standards and social norms, including issuing take-down notices or site-blocking,” it added.

Reporting by Kevin Lim; Editing by Mark Trevelyan

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