New financial law limiting public access?

Monday - 8/2/2010, 2:53pm EDT

A provision in the new financial-regulation law that limits public access to documents collected by the Securities and Exchange Commission is stoking a debate over the proper level of disclosure.

The SEC says the provision, which applies to information it gathers from brokers and investment advisers, will help it get cooperation from the industry and aid examiners in pursuing wrongdoers. The Wall Street Journal reports that some outside lawyers say that if the restriction is applied too widely it could make it harder for the public to keep tabs on an agency that has flubbed big cases such as Bernard Madoff's multibillion-dollar fraud.

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