Rarely does the securities industry have an opportunity to assess the scope of the First Amendment, but the Securities and Exchange Commission’s recent complaint, filed on Jan. 5, 2000 [FOOTNOTE 1] against “Tokyo Joe,” the Internet guru of day traders, raises a legitimate First Amendment issue: To what extent does the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 apply to websites that dispense stock tips and other short-term trading advice to their paying subscribers?

If it is fully applicable, then arguably its requirement that a non-exempt investment adviser must register with the SEC constitutes an impermissible prior restraint on speech.