One of the aspects of the Internet that many I and many others love is its interactive nature. Using a news search engine's push technology, news summaries on accounting firms are sent to me daily.

I get national, local and even international news. For example, I recently received a description and the hyperlink to what looked to be an interesting item. It was an editorial that began with a question: "What should be done to bring an end to collusion between certified public accountants and the corporations they audit? Although it presents great difficulties, the task must be tackled to ensure appropriate corporate accounting."

The editorial, which was from a Japanese newspaper, went on to explain what motivated the question. "On Wednesday, the Tokyo District Court found three CPAs, all of whom had worked for ChuoAoyama PricewaterhouseCoopers, guilty of helping Kanebo, Ltd. falsify its accounts by turning a blind eye to the firm's window-dressing for more than five years.

"One of the accountants was given an 18-month prison sentence suspended for three years, and the others one-year prison sentences suspended for three years. The sentences were as expected, as the three had admitted the charges."

The editorial observed that the court concluded that the current audit system "was prone to collusion between CPAs and the corporations they audit because CPAs are being asked to point the finger at problems in the accounting practices of the very firms that pay them."

In urging a new system, the editorial first mentioned a proposal to set up a fund to pay accountants for their services using contributions from shareholders at corporations they audit. A so-called "more practical solution" was then offered for a board of auditors to be granted the right to determine the size of the fee paid to the audit corporation, rather than having the board of directors at a client corporation determine it. Criminal punishment of the auditing firms was also urged.

When I was a kid, I only saw the word "push" on the doors to my school stairs. I knew what was on the other side, and where it would take me. That is no longer the case. Now the word "push" has whole new meaning, and besides the door being opened automatically for me, I never know what I will find.

It will be fascinating to watch as every accountant in the world with the capability of instantaneous access to news that interests, and ultimately impacts, them will be affected.

The editorial is at www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/editorial/20060810TDY04007.htm.

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