WASHINGTON - The Securities and Exchange Commission has no authority to regulate Internet portals and should not even try, according to a letter sent to acting SEC Chairman Laura S. Unger by Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The letter, dated Tuesday, referred to a seminar hosted by the SEC in late March that explored the relationship between broker-dealers and Internet sites, many of which offer financial news or advice.

The agency "needs to be careful not to create the impression that it is considering regulation of Internet portals," Rep. Tauzin wrote. "Internet portals do not fall within the jurisdiction of the SEC."

"The SEC has had a regrettable tradition of attempting to regulate in areas over which it lacked jurisdiction," Rep. Tauzin said in the letter. "Internet portals should not become part of this tradition."

An SEC spokesman did not return calls.

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