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Biotech Security Science

Avian Flu Researcher Plans to Defy Dutch Ban On Publishing Paper 118

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the coming-to-a-news-stand-near-year dept.
scibri writes "Ron Fouchier, one of the researchers involved in the controversy over whether to publish research on mutant versions of H5N1 bird flu, has said he plans to submit his paper to Science without applying for an export control license as demanded by the Dutch government. Failing to get the license means he could face penalties including up to six years in prison. Whether the paper falls under export-control laws is unclear. The Netherlands implements European Union (EU) legislation on export controls, which require an export permit for 'dual-use' materials and information — those that could have both legitimate and malicious uses — including those relating to dangerous pathogens. But the EU law allows an exception for 'basic scientific research' that is 'not primarily directed towards a specific practical aim or objective,' which Fouchier says should cover his work."
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Avian Flu Researcher Plans to Defy Dutch Ban On Publishing Paper

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  • Good for him (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AdrianKemp (1988748) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @12:05PM (#39723663)

    I salute him for risking prison, he's doing the right thing. Censorship is evil, research perhaps most of all.

  • Agreed (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @12:16PM (#39723789)

    Government will try to paint a picture where the consequences of free association are worse than the consequences of oppression (yes, I said oppression) -- but those of us who think for ourselves already know the truth.

    I'm guessing this respectable man (the scientist) thinks for himself. We need more of his type in this world, and less of the government type. MUCH less of the government type.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @12:18PM (#39723821)

    It's not like the guy is saying,

    "Tomorrow at 8:00AM I'm going to rob the First PanNational Bank of Metropolis and there's nothing you coppers can do to stop me."

    Rather, he is saying,

    "I am going to submit my scientific research to a well respected journal in my field. I do not consider that an illegal act. I do however understand that my research is considered dangerous by some, so I want to appear to be the reasonable person in this situation."

  • Re:Good for him (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DJRumpy (1345787) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @12:18PM (#39723823)

    And if a terrorist group uses that research to kill thousands or millions? Will you still feel its justified?

  • Re:Good for him (Score:5, Insightful)

    by digitig (1056110) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @12:21PM (#39723845)

    And if a terrorist group uses that research to kill thousands or millions? Will you still feel its justified?

    Do you hold the Wright Brothers, Dr Hans Von Ohain and Sir Frank Whittle responsible for 9/11?

  • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot AT worf DOT net> on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @12:31PM (#39723973)

    Wouldn't that be most technology out there?

    I mean, take anything and there's always a malicious use for it. A car can serve as transportation for someone (good), or as a quick getaway after committing a crime (bad).

    The computer can be used to educate and communicate, or to create misery for others and steal (real cybercrime here). And that doesn't even involve the murkiness of copyright.

    A camera can be used to document a crime, or to commit one (e.g., pedophillia creation).

    A book can be used to educate, inform or provide entertainment, or to spread ugly rumors and how to make say, bombs to kill people.

    Really - where's the line? This research can be used to spur new advances in medicine, or be used to create a mass plague.

    Practically everything has a malicious use to it.

  • Re:Good for him (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bmo (77928) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @12:43PM (#39724159)

    "And if a terrorist group uses that research to kill thousands or millions? Will you still feel its justified?"

    Fuck you and everyone like you.

    Yes it's justified.

    The benefits of scientific exchange by studying contagions outweigh whatever risks there are due to mythical terrorists behind every tree. Terrorists, I must add, who set fire to their shoes and underwear. We're not exactly talking about fucking genius. If they thought for one fucking second about what they were doing, they wouldn't try to fucking blow themselves up, would they?

    People like you would drag us back to the fucking dark ages because "technology can be used by terrorists" and there would be no fucking benefit to anyone except your fucking megalomania.

    There are far easier and effective ways of killing people than trying to weaponize a virus. Take your "doctor evil" bad movie script, print it out until it is all sharp corners, and shove it up your ass.

    Go confiscate someone else's nail clippers.

    --
    BMO

  • Re:Good for him (Score:4, Insightful)

    by digitig (1056110) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @12:44PM (#39724177)
    Pretty much any research (beyond that which puts the blindingly obvious on a formal scientific basis) has potential uses for terrorists -- look at the way bodies such as the USA and the EU include basic medicines in export bans because they might be used to heal the baddies. If this information is released worldwide then it could help a whole lot of other people working on a vaccine, not just the Dutch pharmaceutical companies, and so it could lead to earlier development of a vaccine and a resulting saving of lives.
  • Re:Good for him (Score:5, Insightful)

    by martas (1439879) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @12:49PM (#39724221)

    And if said virus killed your family?

    I will never take anyone seriously who brings up the possibility of personal loss in a discussion like this. That is an argument that can be used in many contexts, to argue both sides of the issue. It is non-informative, and intellectually dishonest. Stop it.

  • Re:Good for him (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @12:50PM (#39724231)

    Then at least they didn't die in abject fear of an unlikely bogeyman.

    And my daughter wouldn't have her tits groped on the off chance that the TSA agent will feel something other than her tits.

  • Civil Disobedience (Score:4, Insightful)

    by alexander_686 (957440) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @01:07PM (#39724401)

    I am reading this not as a narrow legal dodge (it falls outside the laws) but as a broad claim of researching being able to freely publish scientific data without prior censorship, and thus a campaign of Civil Disobedience.

    The point of Civil Disobedience is not to break unjust laws, it’s to change them. Read up on the theorist of your choice, but I am picking Gandhi’s Salt March. The idea is to state your case on why you think your action is just, announce you are doing it, then do it. The authorities then must public arrest you. Do it long enough, loud enough and the capricious law will crumble.

    Anonymous Pirates take note. If you think IP laws should change (which I do), stand up and be counted, just don’t download the latest whatever. If you don’t do what you do with pride, people will just assume you are cheap unemployed people ripping off starving artistic.

  • Re:Good for him (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tommituura (1346233) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @01:10PM (#39724437)

    And if said virus killed your family? It's easy to make off the cuff statements that 'censorship' is bad, when researchers also have a responsibility to think of the ramifications of their research.

    Wrong question.

    I'd be much, much more concerned if the scientists will discover a working vaccine before this mutation happens in the wild, and to that end, SCIENCE needs to be done. Suppression of research is clearly harmful to this goal. So, I'd be asking the question: "And if said virus, having mutated in wild, killed your family, and the vaccine wasn't ready in time thanks to idiots who wanted to make it harder to discover with their security theater?"

    And honestly, the way I see it, the harmful info is already out there. If the terrorists have a grasp of biology, and the resources at the level they would be able to actually do these things, the information that H5N1 can actually mutate into something this dangerous is enough. Suppressing this research is doing nothing else but letting the bad guys have all the weapons.

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @03:23PM (#39726471)

    "rogue scientist unwittingly gives the terrorists their dream weapon"

    Terrorists generally aren't too adept at molecular biology. Knowing the DNA sequence does not mean you'd be able to will it together in a functional virus. I'm a molecular biologist, and I wouldn't know where to start making this flu. Terrorists aren't even that advanced with conventional bombs. The 9/11 attacks, they didn't even actually HAVE a bomb, they just had box cutters and a promise that they did have a bomb.

    While some government bent on censoring the internet obviously wouldn't care about the truth and might use it as an excuse anyway, it's also true that voters aren't too concerned about censoring the net anyway.

    Why worry about science as an excuse, when saying "Child porn!" is a more effective cover for taking away free speech anyway?

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