Until this day, the only way to access the Securities and Exchange Commission's Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval (EDGAR) database of filings from public corporations and financial entities was to go to a special reading room in Washington, DC, or to pay private information services.

Until this day, the only way to access the Securities and Exchange Commission's Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval (EDGAR) database of filings from public corporations and financial entities was to go to a special reading room in Washington, DC, or to pay private information services.

At first, the data he made available was two days old, a result of the time it took for the SEC to overnight the data disks to him and for them to then be uploaded. But usage rapidly soared to 50,000 a day. As Malamud later recounted, "What we found when we placed these so-called products on the Internet–for free–was that these reports were not just fodder for a few well-heeled financial professionals…but instead that these public reports of public corporations were of tremendous interest to journalists, students, senior citizen investment clubs, employees of the companies reporting and employees of their competitors, in short a raft of new uses that had been impossible before." Two years later, as the grant was set to run out, Malamud launched a public campaign to get the SEC to take over and maintain the free service, alerting users that his funding was about to run out and giving them the SEC chairman's contact information. He also offered to give his software to the SEC and train its staff. Soon the agency capitulated. It was the dawn of the modern open government movement in the United States.

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Last Modified: 2023-10-04 00:00:00

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