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British Freedom of Information Act takes effect

[JURIST] Britain's Freedom of Information Act took substantive effect Monday on the first UK workday of the new year, 4 years after its passage by Parliament. Under the Act, any recorded governmental information, including paper records, e-mails, computer records, audio, video, microfiche, and handwritten notes can be requested by the public and the appropriate governmental department must respond within 20 days. Critics complain about broad exceptions which may prevent the release of highly sought-after documents, such as those detailing the Attorney General's advice to Prime Minister Tony Blair on the Iraq war. A request can be denied if finding the information costs more than &pounds;450 or 2.5 days of work, or if disclosure would prejudice international relations, law enforcement, commercial interests the economy, or inhibit official discussions. The UK Department for Constitutional Affairs provides instructions for making a request. AP has more.

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