At an open commission meeting on Dec. 17, 2008 the SEC voted to issue a final rule requiring financial statements and certain other information to be filed with the SEC in interactive data format, specifically, using eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL). The rule will be phased in over a three year period, beginning with the largest domestic and foreign private issuers that file in U.S. GAAP (those with over $5 billion in worldwide public float, which the SEC estimates to be 500 companies). Smaller GAAP filers and companies that file in IFRS will be phased in over the remaining two years.
Four of the five SEC commissioners voted in favor of the new rule, with Commissioner Aguilar dissenting based on the lessor level of liablity on interactive data during the first two years of a company's interactive data filings, which he believed was not consistent with investor protection.
In related news, the SEC also launched its IDEA system, which will supplement, and eventually replace, the EDGAR system.
See highlights of the new rule and related information here.