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Fair Disclosure Rules May Change For Company Blogs & Websites

Last week the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced it was seeking the approval of new guidelines on the use of company web sites for fair disclosure by public companies. Those new guidelines, if approved, may mean that companies can disclose information about their public company on a website instead of having to use a press release or telephone conference.

Jonathan Schwartz Blogs About Changes To Fair Disclosure

In September of 2006, Jonathan Schwartz, the CEO of SUN Microsystems sent a letter to Christopher Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), to encourage the use of websites and blogs for the fair disclosure of information by public companies instead of using press releases and conference calls.

Christopher Cox wrote back to Mr. Schwartz in November of 2006, but also posted his response on the SUN CEO's blog, Mr. Cox welcomed the dialogue and encouraged more ideas in light of the expanding nature of the Internet.

Jonathan followed up the letter with a discourse with the SEC chairman, and wrote another post in March of 2007.

That post may give us some clues to what is going to happen in the new rules for public disclosure when it comes to company websites and blogs, Jonathan Schwartz proposed a number of guidelines for fair disclosure to Chairman Cox.

“Propose is a new policy under which online communications would fully satisfy Regulation FD’s broad distribution requirement provided that: • for a webcast (and related slides), the webcast is made available on a company’s investor relations site and notice of the webcast is posted at least three business days in advance or as early as possible; • for a corporate blog or individual blog of a senior official of the Company (as defined in Reg FD), the blog is linked prominently to the company’s investor relations site; and, • for a press release, it is posted to the company’s investor relations site within the time periods specified for Form 8K filings.”

And Mr. Schwartz went onto to recommend several rules for ensuring any public company online communications satisfied Regulation Fair Disclosure, which you can find in his post.

In fact if you take a look at SUN's investor relations website you may be looking at the company archetype investor relations website of the future, with RSS feeds and links to CEO, Jonathan Schwartz's blog.

For more information on Regulation FD or Fair Disclosure check out these listings:

Rule 100 -- General Rule regarding selective Disclosure.

Rule 101 --

Form 8-k

Also, check out Tim Bray's analysis of some of the arguments for and against the use of blogs and company websites for fair disclosure.

Social Media Press Release For Fair Disclosure

Brian Solis wrote a thoughtful blog post on Techcrunch suggesting that the social media press release was the way to go for public company disclosure on public company websites. The SMPR might be one possible avenue, but I was also thinking the solution presented by SUN on their investor relations website was pretty good.

Brian, I wonder if you can clarify whether you consider the types of posts on the SUN website could be described as a social media press release. There are definitely some of the same elements, RSS specifically, but I also thought the version on the SUN website was a lot more basic.

Update: The SEC guidelines were posted on Friday. Via IRWebreport