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Assurance Reporting for XML-Based Information Services: XARL (Extensible Assurance Reporting Language)

J. EFRIM BORITZ University of Waterloo - School of Accountancy WON NO University of Waterloo - School of Accountancy


    Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) is an XML-based method for financial reporting. XBRL was developed to provide users with an efficient and effective means of preparing and exchanging financial information over the Internet. However, like other unprotected data coded in XML, XBRL (document) files (henceforth, documents) are vulnerable to threats against their integrity. Anyone can easily create and manipulate an XBRL document without authorization. In addition, business and financial information in XBRL can be misinterpreted, or used without the organization's consent or knowledge.

    Extensible Assurance Reporting Language (XARL) was initially developed by Boritz and No (2003) to enable assurance providers to report on the integrity of XBRL documents distributed over the Internet. Providing assurance on XBRL documents using XARL could help users and companies reduce the uncertainty about the integrity of those documents and provide users with trustworthy information that they could place warranted reliance upon.

    A limitation of the initial conception of XARL was its tight linkage with the XBRL document and the comparatively primitive approach to codifying the XARL taxonomy. In this paper, we have reconceptualized the idea of XARL as a standalone service for providing assurance on potentially any XML-based information being shared over the Internet. While our illustrative application in this paper continues to be XBRL-coded financial information, the code that underlies this version of XARL is a significant revision of our earlier implementation of XARL, is compatible with the latest version of XBRL, and moves XARL into the Web services arena.

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