Land of the free thwarts freedom of information
President Barack Obama's decision to publish his full birth certificate, in order to thwart critics who question whether he was born in the US, is an interesting example of differences between Britain and the United States of freedom on information (FOI).
People frequently praise America as a shining example of the best of FOI, but this case shows it's not quite all it's cracked up to be.
Such a row could never have occurred in Britain because birth certificates have long been publicly available here (for a small fee) - and that was true long before the landmark Freedom of Information Act in 2000.
In America concerns about privacy often trump FOI. While researching a book some years ago, I even discovered that in California it's possible to have a secret wedding, with no public record of it having taken place.
Crazy. But true.