Internet to offer company documents

January 17, 1994|By New York Times News Service

In a two-year experiment that begins today, documents filed electronically to the Securities and Exchange Commission from public companies will be available to users of Internet, a global network of computer users.

Documents obtainable on the service include annual reports, 10-K filings, proxy statements and other information valued by traders and investors. These documents are already available electronically through commercial data suppliers, including Mead Data Central Inc. of Dayton, Ohio, but the new Internet service is the first to make them available without additional charges.

The new service is the most ambitious effort so far by the Clinton administration to make much government information widely available to the public at minimal cost.

Although access to Internet itself can be costly, millions of people can tap into it through commercial, government and educational computer networks. Once a computer user is connected to Internet, a global network that links millions of large and small computers so they can share information, there is typically no extra fee for document transfers.

"We have a policy that government information ought to be made available at only the marginal cost to provide the information," said Tom Kalil, who coordinates science and technology policy at the White House's National Economic Council.

"We view this type of information dissemination as one of the ways we can address the info 'haves-and-have-nots' issue. Since taxpayers have already paid for it, the idea of making it available was appealing."

The cost of providing the SEC data to Internet users is being underwritten by a National Science Foundation grant. The contract for operation of the computer data bases is with the not-for-profit Internet Multicasting Service of Washington.

Carl Malamud, the principal of Internet Multicasting, said the SEC is charging $78,000 a year to supply his company with data tapes of each day's filings.

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