NU Online News Service, Feb. 4, 2005, 4:20 p.m. EST
Securities regulators want to see whether a new approach to identifying bits of electronic information will make life easier for investors and public companies.[@@]
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has decided to establish a voluntary program that will let insurance companies and other public companies submit batches of XML data with their electronic annual report filings and other electronic report filings.
The program will take effect for reports for 2004 and later years filed after March 16.
XML is an internationally accepted set of rules for using hidden “tags” to identify bits of data. Computers can use the tags to speed up the process of finding bits of information, converting a file into another type of file, and using one computer system to read data stored on another type of computer system.
The SEC is asking companies that want to submit XML financial data to use standards developed by the XBRL Consortium, New York, a nonprofit group that is developing “standard taxonomies” for identify all of the revenue figures, income figures and other figures in financial reports.
The consortium says it hopes to complete work on a standard insurance taxonomy and taxonomies for industrial companies, banks, savings institutions and ordinary commercial companies by Feb. 28.
The consortium also hopes to complete an investment company standard by March 31.
Although the XML program is voluntary, participating companies must use the appropriate XBRL standard taxonomy, the SEC says in a program announcement.