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Y2K may give inmates a bit of freedom

OSLO, Norway (AP) -- Some Norwegian prisoners may get to spend New Year's Eve in freedom because officials fear blackouts if power company computers crash because of the so-called Y2K problem.

Power companies serving Norway's Vestfold County cannot guarantee electricity supplies on New Year's Day due to the potential computer glitch, the NRK radio network reported Thursday.The problem is caused because earlier computer programmers trying to save memory space used only two digits to store information for a year -- meaning the year 2000 can be confused for 1900.

"At the minimum security, open prisons the inmates will probably be released, while those in high security facilities would have to be moved to other parts of the country," said Terje Weber, deputy director of the district's prisons.

It was not clear how many prisoners might be affected, or whether other jails might have to close.