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Science Panel Recommends Censoring Bird Flu Papers 126

Morty writes "The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) has recommended that details of two research papers involving Avian Flu not be published because of security concerns. At least one of the research groups says that their work should be logically reproducible. The NSABB's censorship recommendations do not (currently) have the force of law, but Science and Nature voluntarily delayed publication."
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Science Panel Recommends Censoring Bird Flu Papers

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  • by Kinky Bass Junk ( 880011 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @06:39AM (#38889221)
    When security vulnerabilities are discovered in a piece of software (that is not open source), the release of that information may be delayed to allow sufficient time for the developers to patch the vulnerability. This organisation is basically asking that the release of this information be delayed until such a time as it is irrelevant. The problem we see with this is that people will always find the unreleased vulnerabilities, and it is entirely possible that this will happen in this case, but it would be a bit more catastrophic than a 0-day IIS vulnerability.
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @09:44AM (#38890453) Homepage

    The important atomic bomb secret was that it could be done.

    The important secret here is that "university-based scientists in the Netherlands and Wisconsin created a version of the so-called H5N1 influenza virus that is highly lethal and easily transmissible between ferrets."

    Assume that there are terrorists out there who wish to develop a virological weapon, and have the smarts and the wherewithal to do so. They now know that the H5N1 virus is a good place to start and that there's a winning combination to be found. Holding back the precise blueprint isn't going to delay things much. You have to assume the terrorists are capable of doing research-quality work. It sounds rather as if researchers in the Netherlands and Wisconsin both found answers indepedently. It's quite possible that the terrorists, working on their own, will find something original and better than either of them.

    What suppressing the research might do is make it difficult for other researchers to experiment with protective measures against them.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"