The Securities and Exchange Commission has formally proposed that all U.S. companies use interactive data tagging when they provide financial information.

“This move will usher in a quantum leap in helping companies explain their business to investors,” said SEC Chief Information Officer Corey Booth.

The data tags identify individual items in a company’s financial statement so they can be easily searched on the Internet, downloaded into spreadsheets and reorganized in databases for an endless number of comparative and analytical uses by investors, portfolio managers and analysts.

The proposed rule requires the largest U.S. companies to adopt data tagging beginning next year, and all public companies within three years.

“It would transform financial disclosure from a 1930s for-based system to a truly 21st Century model that taps the power of technology for the benefit of investors,” said SEC Chairman Christopher Cox.

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