SEC adopts electronic signature use, electronic administrative proceeding filing/service - 18 November 2020
The Commission’s technology can now accept electronic signatures and facilitate electronic administrative proceeding documentation.
The SEC voted to adopt rules and rule amendments permitting electronic signatures to authenticate SEC-filed documents, along with facilitating electronic service and filing in connection with Commission administrative proceedings. The rule amendments additionally require redaction of sensitive personal information. The amendments take effect 30 days after Federal Register publication of the adopting release, but compliance does not begin until April 12, 2021. Furthermore, there will be an initial 90-day phase-period after the compliance date.
Electronic signatures. The electronic signature part of the adoption consists of Regulation S-T and Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval System (EDGAR) amendments that will permit electronic signatures to authenticate documents (previously, Regulation S-T mandated a manual signature). Also, corresponding revisions to Exchange Act, Securities Act and 1940 Investment Company Act rules and forms will be made to similarly allow electronic signatures to be affixed to other filings.
Electronic filing and service—administrative proceedings. The SEC’s second adopted action pertains to rule amendments requiring electronic filing and service of the Commission’s administrative proceedings documents. The process underlying these amendments will unfold as follows:
Beginning on the rule’s above mentioned compliance date, the Electronic Filings in Administrative Proceedings (eFAP) system will become accessible via the Commission’s website. Specifically, a link on the website at www.sec.gov will route the user to login.gov (a General Services Administration service) for multi factor authentication; login.gov will then route the user back to the eFAP system. Additionally and contemporaneously with the issuance of the adopting release, the Commission’s Office of the Secretary will post on the Commission’s website Instructions for Electronic Filing and Service of Documents in SEC Administrative Proceedings and Technical Specifications (Instructions), as well as an eFAP User Manual (User Manual) on how to use the eFAP system.
The Instructions describe in "question and answer" format the technical requirements for electronic filing, including the mechanics of uploading documents, acceptable file formats, file size limitations, and naming conventions, among other things. The instructions also address electronic service of documents by the Office of the Secretary of the Commission upon the parties to the proceeding, which will occur through the eFAP system, and electronic service by the parties upon other participants in the proceeding, which will occur by email outside of the eFAP system. The User Manual addresses the technical requirements of registration and login and includes various screenshots that users will encounter in navigating the eFAP system.
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