Ashley Madison sues South Korea for being anti-competitive

The website for married individuals to meet one another states that South Korea has spared other similar platforms such as Gihonja

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Canada-based dating platform for married individuals Ashley Madison has announced that it has filed a suit in Canadian federal court against the South Korean government for “wrongfully blocking” its business.

For background, in April 2014, Ashley Madison had launched its site in South Korea, only to see it being shut down by the government’s Korea Communications Standards Commission. In an email to e27, the firm wrote that the Commission had shut down its business “without consultation or communication”.

“In our suit, we are seeking a reversal of the government’s decision and compensation for damages,” read the email.

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The Commission had earlier banned Ashley Madison on the grounds that it contained illegal information, given that committing adultery is considered a crime in the country.

In an official statement, Ashley Madison noted that South Korea “has a free enterprise marketplace”, which means that there should be minimal government interference. Furthermore, it also vehemently objected to the claim that there is “illegal information” on the platform, while maintaining that Ashley Madison is a social networking platform such as Kakao Talk and other brands.

Additionally, it highlighted the existence of Gihonja, a Korean site which works to promote extra-marital affairs as well.

“The Commission has refused or failed to provide any evidence upon which it relied that demonstrates that any communication between individuals using the Plaintiff’s website constitutes an illegal activity,” it added.

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In an interview conducted in June 2014, Noel Biderman, CEO, Ashley Madison, told e27 about how the firm is doing post-ban in South Korea and Singapore. As of June 20, there were 135,751 members and 18,326 daily active users in South Korea, and 25,318 members and 5,114 daily active users in Singapore.

The site was first banned in Singapore under the Broadcasting (Class Licence) Notification issued by the Media Development Authority of Singapore last November, but Ashley Madison has yet to retaliate with legal action. According to The Globe and Mail, Biderman said that the situation in Singapore was different from that in South Korea: “the site had already been operating for weeks when it was shut down” in the latter. 

Elaine Huang

Elaine is a fervent believer that if there ever is a zombie apocalypse, we will all be snapping away at them with our phones and posting them onto Instagram. A Mass Communication graduate of Ngee Ann Polytechnic's School of Film and Media Studies, she enjoys writing about technology and entrepreneurs. When not hashtagging her way through all sorts of trouble, Elaine is probably contemplating how to write in the third person.

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