Article InformationEdit

Title: Balancing National Security and Scientific Openness

Author(s): Lauren Gibson

Affiliation: George Washington University

Presented At: STiS 2008

Primary Topic Area: National Security


In this age of increased security concerns, it is necessary to reexamine the open dissemination of research that may be of use to terrorists. While imposing publication restrictions may be the best way to ensure our national security, it is counter to the culture of science and harmful to researcher’s careers. For any restrictions to be successful, the scientific community must be involved in shaping them and implementing them. To this end, I will present four interconnected recommendations on how to administer publication restrictions while balancing the needs of these two diverse communities. First, there must be an education campaign between the security and scientific professionals. Scientists must be educated about security concerns and how their research may intersect them. Then, there must be agreement between the communities about the scope of the restrictions. This can best be achieved through a joint committee determining the specific restrictions. Next, a limited journal must be published that refers the reader to the principle investigator for the sensitive details. This way, the principle investigator is held ultimately responsible for the safe dissemination of their research. Finally, an oversight committee must be established to monitor the success of the program and note any suspicious patterns in groups acquiring the information. Implementing these recommendations would require cooperation between the two communities, but their differences can be overcome in the names of science and national security.

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