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Freedom of Information Act 2000

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 is an act of the United Kingdom (UK) Parliament defining the ways in which the public may obtain access to government-held information. The intent is to allow private individuals and corporations reasonable access to information while minimizing the risk of harm to any entity. The concept was first put forward in 1997, was passed in 2000 and came into full effect in 2005. A similar act was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2002.

The text of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 contains eight major sections called Parts, followed by eight explanatory notes called Schedules. The Parts outline the rights of the public to obtain information, conditions under which such access may be refused, special exemptions, an appeals process and modes of enforcement. The Schedules explain the Parts in greater detail and elaborate on diverse contingencies and legal interpretations. Any person or corporation can request information in writing under the act. A request need not be prepared in any particular format, nor does the applicant have to justify the request. A request may be denied for various reasons -- for example if granting it would break a law, compromise the safety or health of any individual or endanger national security. A request may also be denied if it is deemed "vexatious." If a request is denied, the applicant may appeal.

A bill for an amendment to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 was introduced to the House of Commons in 2007. If the bill becomes law, it will exempt some government officials from certain provisions of the act.

This was last updated in January 2008

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