Securities regulators are proposing rule amendments that would allow investment dealers to facilitate the electronic dissemination of brokerage research.

The Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) Thursday proposed rule changes that would allow dealers to direct readers to required disclosures through embedded links when research reports are delivered by electronic means.

Currently, IIROC rules require dealers to include certain disclosures in all research reports, except where the report covers more than six issuers, in that case, dealers can direct readers to where the required disclosures can be found (in other words not in the body of the report itself).

The proposed amendments would repeal the existing rule, and replace it with a requirement that would maintain the existing requirements for paper-based reports, but for electronic reports, it would require dealers to either include the mandatory disclosures in the body of the report, or to allow them to facilitate access to the disclosures by electronic means from within the report, such as through a link.

By using links in electronic versions of research reports, dealers will be able to “provide readers with quick and easy access to the [required] disclosures that are not located in the research report itself,” it says. “As such, [dealers] are able to comply with their… disclosure obligations in an efficient and practical way, without compromising the investor protections … “

IIROC says that the primary objective of the proposals is to facilitate, “the practical and effective disclosure of required information through the use of technology and in a way that promotes the protection of the investing public.”

It also suggests that its proposed prescriptive approach will provide dealers with greater clarity and guidance than a principles-based approach would allow. “This will facilitate better understanding of, and compliance with, such requirements,” it says, adding that it will also harmonize Canadian and U.S. requirements.

Comments are sought within 90 days.