Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
Currently, Rule 36--NYSE Amex Equities prohibits members and member organizations from establishing or maintaining any telephonic or electronic communication, including the usage of any portable or wireless communication devices (
Notwithstanding the general prohibition on the use of portable or wireless communication devices, current Rule 36--NYSE Amex Equities permits Floor brokers to use Exchange authorized and issued portable phones on the Floor to communicate with both member firms and non-members off the Floor, subject to certain restrictions.
As noted in the foregoing paragraph, the restrictions on the use of portable or wireless communication devices in current Rule 36--NYSE Amex Equities relate to what is and is not permissible on the Exchange Floor. Under Rule 6--NYSE Amex Equities, the term "Floor" is defined as having the same meaning given that term "under the Act." The Exchange has issued interpretive guidance that the "Floor" includes the trading Floor of the Exchange and the premises immediately adjacent thereto, such as the various entrances and lobbies of the 11 Wall Street, 18 New Street, 8 Broad Street, 12 Broad Street and 18 Broad Street Buildings, the telephone facilities available in these locations, the areas outside the "Blue Line" (member and member organization booths adjacent to the trading Floor), and any area reserved primarily for members, including members' lounges and bathrooms.
Recently, the Exchange adopted Rule 6A--NYSE Amex Equities, setting forth a definition of "Trading Floor" that is distinct from the definition of Floor. Specifically, the Equities Trading Floor is an area within the area of the "Floor" and defined as "the restricted-access physical areas designated by the Exchange for the trading of securities, commonly known as the `Main Room' and the `Garage.'" As such, the Trading Floor's restricted access physical areas include the areas outside the Blue Line that include the member and member organization booths and/or trading desks. In accordance with Rule 6A--NYSE Amex Equities, the Equities Trading Floor does not, however, include the areas where NYSE Amex-listed options are traded, commonly known as the "Blue Room" and the "Extended Blue Room" (the "NYSE Amex Options Trading Floor").
The Exchange proposes to amend Rule 36--NYSE Amex Equities to conform with proposed amendments to corresponding New York Stock Exchange ("NYSE") Rule 36.
The proposal would permit members and member firm employees to use personal portable or wireless communications devices in designated areas of the Exchange's buildings and facilities that fall within the technical definition of the Floor under Rule 6, but that are outside the Trading Floor, and other restricted access points (
The proposal would thus permit members and member firm employees to use their personal communications devices in the in the hallways, stairwells, lobbies or members-only areas of the Exchange premises that are adjacent to the Equities and Options Trading Floors of the Exchange and the NYSE.
In its filing, the Exchange stated that the purpose of the proposal is to provide Exchange members and member firm employees with a reasonable and comfortable space inside the physical confines of the Exchange's buildings and facilities within which they may use their personal portable or wireless communication devices, without diminishing the ability to monitor and regulate their conduct.
In addition, noting that the proposed rule amendments specifically provide that the use of personal portable or wireless communication devices by Exchange members and member firm employees is subject to compliance with all other Exchange Rules and/or federal securities laws, the Exchange represented that it will issue a Notice to Members that will, among other things, remind Exchange members and member firm employees of their obligations under the requirements of Securities Exchange Act Release Nos. 33-7288 and 34-37182, concerning the "Use of Electronic Media by Broker-Dealers, Transfer Agents, and Investment Advisers for Delivery of Information."
The Exchange also proposed to change Rule 36.23--NYSE Amex Equities to refer to NYSE Amex Options Rule 902NY to clarify that the Exchange's Options Rules permit NYSE Amex Options members to use personal communications devices on the NYSE Amex Options Trading Floor, but that such rule prohibits NYSE Amex Options members from using those devices on the Equities Trading Floor of the Exchange. The Exchange also proposed corresponding technical amendments to Rule 36.20--NYSE Amex Equities.
After careful review, the Commission finds that the proposed rule change is consistent with the requirements of the Act and the rules and regulations thereunder applicable to a national securities exchange. Specifically, the Commission finds that the proposed rule change is consistent with Section 6(b)(5) of the Act,
The Exchange has proposed that members and member firm employees be permitted to use personal portable or wireless communication devices off the Exchange Trading Floor and outside of restricted access areas (
The Commission finds, however, that the proposal strikes a reasonable balance between the Exchange's interest in providing a convenient and comfortable space for Exchange members and member firm employees to use their personal portable communications devices inside Exchange buildings and its interest in minimizing the risk of misuse of such devices, which are not subject to the same surveillance as Exchange authorized and issued devices. In particular, the Commission notes the Exchange's representation that any time or place advantage to using personal portable communication devices outside restricted points of access to the Trading Floor is "significantly reduced by the fact that a Floor Broker or DMM has no line of sight and no ability to hear trading activity on the [Trading] Floor and the speed of electronic trading would likely render stale any information a DMM had prior to leaving his or her post on the Trading Floor."
The Commission notes that the Exchange retains jurisdiction over its members for their conduct in the new areas where the use of personal communication devices will now be permitted because these areas are still within the broader definition of Floor under Rule 6--NYSE Amex Equities.
The Commission further finds that the added reference in Rule 36.23 to NYSE Amex Options Rule 902NY is consistent with the Act because it ensures that Rule 36.23 references a rule that clarifies members' obligations. The Commission also finds the proposed technical changes to Rules 36.20 to be consistent with the Act.
Based on the foregoing, the Commission therefore finds the proposal to be consistent with the Act. The Commission believes that the proposal to permit the use of personal communication devices in certain specified areas adjacent to the Exchange's Equities Trading Floor, the NYSE Amex Options Trading Floor, and the NYSE Trading Floor, while not without any risk, is tempered by the speed of electronic trading, the existence of access barriers between such Trading Floors and the areas where use of personal communication devices will now be permitted, and the fact that the Exchange retains jurisdiction over its members while they are in these areas. The Commission expects, however, that the Exchange will monitor compliance with the new rule and inform the Commission if it encounters difficulties in implementing and enforcing it or otherwise finds that that the new rule raises regulatory concerns.