The Freedom of Information Act 2000, taken together with the Data Protection Act 1998, has created new challenges for those engaged in handling and providing access to records in public authorities.1 Freedom of Information has significant implications for working practices within archive and records management in these authorities and will necessitate far-reaching changes. Other recent changes in legislation and certain policy initiatives will add further impetus to this process. Foremost of these are the modernising agenda associated with the Local Government Act 2000, recent legislation concerning the interception of communications on public networks, and central government’s e-government initiative.2 In addition, there is the incorporation of European law on human rights into English legislation in the form of the Human Rights Act 1998.3 This establishes standards for all thinking on policy and legislative issues affecting human welfare. The essence of Freedom of Information is to facilitate general access to information held by public authorities. The essence of Data Protection is to protect the rights of privacy of the individual. Although the legislation has been drafted to accommodate these two sets of needs, and although they should complement each other, there is a potential tension for public authorities. This stems primarily from areas of ambiguity created by the practicalities of their implementation, between granting access to information while ensuring that privacy is maintained. Much will become clearer with practical experience of the legislation. With these thoughts in mind, the Balancing Information Access and Privacy (BIAP) project was conceived. It aimed to survey the early response in local authorities to these core legislative changes within their wider context, to assess what preparations were under way, and to gauge reactions to the need to balance providing access with protecting privacy. The project focused upon responses from English shire and metropolitan local authorities and their associated record offices outside of Greater London.