On November 17, the SEC adopted rules and rule amendments permitting the use of electronic signatures in authentication documents, and facilitating electronic service and filing in the SEC’s administrative proceedings. The rules and amendments are permanent and not limited to the duration of the pandemic or national emergency, and will help to reconcile the expedients that have arisen during the current pandemic conditions with the now-outdated regulatory expectations for manual signatures in effect prior to the adoption of the rules and amendments.
In the first action, the SEC adopted rule amendments to permit the use of electronic signatures when executing authentication documents in connection with many documents filed with the SEC. The amendments revise Rule 302(b) of Regulation S-T to permit a signatory to an electronic filing who follows certain procedures to sign an authentication document through an electronic, rather than manual, signature that meets certain requirements specified in the EDGAR Filer Manual. In addition, the SEC amended certain rules and forms under the Securities Act of 1933, Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Investment Company Act of 1940 to allow the use of electronic signatures in authentication documents in connection with certain other filings when these filings contain typed, rather than manual, signatures. The rule amendments will be effective upon publication of the adopting release in the Federal Register.
In the second action, the SEC adopted rule amendments to require electronic filing and service of documents in administrative proceedings. These rule amendments also require redaction of sensitive personal information from many of these documents before filing with the SEC. These amendments will become effective 30 days after publication of the adopting release in the Federal Register. However, compliance will not be required until April 12, 2021, and there will be an initial 90-day phase-in period following the compliance date.
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