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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 December, 2004, 11:52 GMT
Your right to know: Your chance to know?
  • Do you have a burning desire to find out what a public body is up to?
  • Have you been trying with no success to see documents you believe should be public knowledge?
  • Are you planning to use the Freedom of Information Act?

    From next year a new era of government begins, with the Freedom of Information Act. The Act, which comes into force on 1 January, gives everyone new rights to see what goes on in their name, with their money.

    Having been a practising doctor for 40 years, I know how important it is for people to know how a loved one died - otherwise there is a sense of incompletion
    Godfrey Fowler

    Under the Act, thousands of public bodies - from schools, to councils; police forces to waterways authorities; and the BBC - will have to reveal documents which, until now, have been kept secret.

    The Magazine wants to hear about your applications, or ideas that you have for information you want to find out about under the new Freedom of Information Act. We will then follow a number of your cases through the year as you try and peel back the layers of government to find out what really goes on.

    The law is primarily for the general public to use - and learn more about decisions that affect their everyday lives. Not only does it cost nothing to make an application, it is also a simple process.

    Your applications featured

    If you are planning an application or have an idea about something you want to find out about, let us know.

    100,000 bodies affected
    A right to ask for information and see it
    A duty on bodies to provide it
    Wide exemptions
    Security services and others exempt

    Resources on the BBC's websites explain how the Act works. Experts will be following your applications and commenting on the results.

    Once an application is in, a body has to reply within 20 working days. Some more difficult cases may take longer to reach a conclusion if a body initially refuses to divulge information and you need to appeal.

    We're particularly interested in applications involving a wide range of organisations, not just the big targets such as Whitehall departments. Even if something appears apparently mundane, it is as important as any other application as it will provide a sense of how the Act is being implemented.

    Use the form below to tell us more. We will get back in touch with as many as you that we can and then feature some of your requests for information, and the results, as fire them off.

    We recognise that at this early stage some applications may be sensitive, so any information you send us will be treated as confidential until someone agrees to join the project and feature their request on the BBC News website.

    Your e-mail address
    Telephone number (optional)
    Your plan for an application under the Act

    The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.

    Internet links

    The BBC's iCan website explains in brief detail how the Freedom of Information Act can be used. It's a step-by-step guide to making an application.

    The Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) is responsible for the Act and it naturally has comprehensive information on how it works and the ways you can use it. There are separate pages explaining how Scotland's similar Act works.

    The Information Commissioner is essentially the appeal body and its role is explained in depth in its own website.


    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


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