SEC releases guidance on Web, opens comment period

WASHINGTON: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has released its interpretive guidance for Web communications, which establishes that the Internet may be used by "some companies in certain circumstances" for public disclosure of material information, including earnings.

WASHINGTON: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has released its interpretive guidance for Web communications, which establishes that the Internet may be used by “some companies in certain circumstances” for public disclosure of material information, including earnings.

In the guidance, which was released today, the SEC wrote: “[W]e now believe that technology has evolved and the use of the Internet has grown such that, for some companies in certain circumstances, posting of the information on the company's Web site, in and of itself, may be a sufficient method of public disclosure under Rule 101(e) of Regulation FD.”

The SEC is inviting comments on the guidance through November 5, 2008.

Business Wire, for one, has already issued a response statement re-iterating its opposition to Web-only disclosure.

The guidance document spends a great deal of time defining what constitutes a “public” corporate Web site, including whether a company has made it known to investors and markets that material information is available on its site and whether the company is ensuring that the material information is being picked up by the market and the media.

The SEC also talks about hyperlinks to third-party sources, republishing information, the use of summaries, and other issues. It encourages the “robust” and “interactive” use of the corporate Web site, such as adding blogs.

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