NEW YORK - Mutual fund companies that provide products and information online need to be careful they are in full compliance with SEC and NASD regulations because both organizations are starting to interpret their own regulations more narrowly than they have in the past, industry lawyers said.

The SEC, which operates like a pendulum that swings between protecting investors and facilitating capital growth, is currently swinging towards investor protection with regard to online issues, said Barry P. Barbash, a partner with the law firm of Shearman & Sterling of Washington D.C. Barbash spoke at a conference here on online distribution strategies last week sponsored by the Institute for International Research.

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