The new "Framework for 'Investment Contract' Analysis of Digital Assets" was published on April 3, accompanied by an official statement.
Notably, the framework is the work of two SEC Commissioners: Bill Hinman, director of the SEC's Division of Corporation Finance and Valerie Szczepanik, Senior Advisor for Digital Assets and Innovation — colloquially known as the Commission's "crypto czar."
The guidance is therefore not a rule, regulation, or statement of the U.S. Commission, which has reportedly neither approved nor disapproved its content.
As the authors stress, the framework is not intended to be exhaustive nor to provide formal legal advice, but to serve as an analytical tool that will help operators of initial coin offerings (ICO) and token issuers determine whether their offering is likely to fall subject to federal securities laws. Market participants are thus urged to further consult the formal rules and regulations available on the SEC's Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology (FinHub).
The framework focuses on determining whether a digital asset has the characteristics of one particular type of security - an investment contract - rather than covering the full gamut of possible security classifications.