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Science Panel Recommends Censoring Bird Flu Papers

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the otherwise-the-terrrrrists-win dept.

Biotech 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Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) has recommended that details of two research papers involving Avian Flu not be published because of security concerns.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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Fuck you... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38889097)

Fuck you paranoid NORTH-americans. I hope you all die soon because of your stupidity

Re:Fuck you... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38889121)

Blow me you fucking bearcock sucker.

Re:Fuck you... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38889159)

Fuck off and go back to watching your cuntry die while you chock down another hamburger or six, amerifat. captcha: pigskin, nice one for when replying to a fucking american piece of trash.

Re:Fuck you... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38889173)

Go back to sucking the cum out of your nigger boyfriends asshole in the name of multiculturalism; You fucking dipshit dumbass fuckfaced eurotrash retard faggot.

Re:Fuck you... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38889183)

LOL, I'm not even sure if I'm argueing with a child because all americans are this dumb!

Re:Fuck you... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38889193)

Slashdot First Posts. Where trolls troll trolls...

Re:Fuck you... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38889195)

The stupidity in this european asshole specimen is amazing!

Re:Fuck you... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38889211)

Crikey!

The main difference between America and Europe is: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38889393)

almost_impossibly_obese_taco_bell_scoffing_rancid_bitch.jpg

elegantly_dressed_parisian_cutie_drinking_espresso.jpg

Re:Fuck you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38891721)

I hope YOU all die because of our stupidity.

captcha: ingrate

cats out of the bag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38889099)

tooo late...

http://www.doctortipster.com/6952-dutch-researcher-created-a-super-influenza-virus-with-the-potential-to-kill-millions.html
not exact but.... MILLIONS!

Re:cats out of the bag (1)

emilper (826945) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889215)

they did not create anything ... just proved that a virus that shares _one protein_ with the "bird flu" virus can infect mammals ... this is not news and this is not dangerous information ...

Incorrect. (5, Informative)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889367)

What they actually did was create a NEW strain of the virus, which was physically transmissible. Before they bred this transmissible virus via ferrets, it was not easily transmitted to humans.

So what they did was actually create a superflu... one with a high mortality rate in humans and is easily transmissible. Whereas before these experiments, it already had a high mortality rate, but was not easy to transmit.

These were extrememly dangerous experiments that should never have been carried out. The labs where they did this work do make mistakes... we know because they have suffered loss of containment in the past!

If you want to read more about it, just google "H5N1" and "ferret".

Re:Incorrect. (5, Informative)

emilper (826945) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889447)

there was another thread about this same subject a few weeks ago, and there was no "new strain of the virus", just a virus sharing one of the proteins that help the virii attach to cells

while we have lots of resistant bacterias living in our hospitals (and by our mean "all the hospitals in the world"), we're getting hype over this ... not sure any more it's hysterics or histrionics ... maybe Netherlands needs pretexts to wipe out chicken farms somewhere ...

here you go, mandatory link to non-brain-damaged content ... http://www.virology.ws/2011/12/06/ferreting-out-influenza-h5n1/ [virology.ws]

Scientists appear to be responsible for the hype surrounding this experiment. Fouchier called it ‘one of the most dangerous viruses you can make’. Paul Keim, chair of NSABB, ‘can’t think of another pathogenic organism that is as scary as this one’, and Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University says the experiment should not have been done. Martin Enserink writing in ScienceInsider says that the virus could change world history, and similar proclamations of doom can be found in the popular press.

Passage of viruses in a different host is one strategy for reducing the virulence in humans. This concept is explained in this passage from Principles of Virology:

Less virulent (attenuated) viruses can be selected by growth in cells other than those of the normal host, or by propagation at nonphysiological temperatures. Mutants able to propagate better under these selective conditions arise during viral replication. When such mutants are isolated, purified, and subsequently tested for pathogenicity in appropriate models, some may be less pathogenic than their parent.

The possibility that passage of the H5N1 virus in ferrets will attenuate its virulence in humans has been ignored.

getting tired of this ...

Re:Incorrect. (-1, Redundant)

GauteL (29207) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889589)

there was another thread about this same subject a few weeks ago, and there was no "new strain of the virus", just a virus sharing one of the proteins that help the virii attach to cells

while we have lots of resistant bacterias living in our hospitals (and by our mean "all the hospitals in the world"), we're getting hype over this ... not sure any more it's hysterics or histrionics ... maybe Netherlands needs pretexts to wipe out chicken farms somewhere

I'm not sure I understand your point here. In the link you posted yourself, there is nothing about this being hysterics. On the contrary it seems to confirm the parent posters argument that this is research so dangerous it shouldn't have been performed, let alone published. Flu is very different from the resistant bacteria that bring up.

Re:Incorrect. (5, Insightful)

GauteL (29207) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889635)

Actually, I was to quick about it and I apologise. Please mod down my parent post as it is nonsense.

Re:Incorrect. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38890949)

I applaud your ability to admit to being potentially or clearly incorrect. Even if you end up being correct, I see far too many ill-informed people that are quick to take a popular view, without questioning sources AND their own judgement. I believe the deepest levels of learning come from questioning everything and evryone, especially yourself, when considering what one accepts to be fact.

That low ID looks to be a bit well-deserved.

Re:Incorrect. (3, Insightful)

chrb (1083577) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889745)

there was no "new strain of the virus", .... here you go, mandatory link to non-brain-damaged content ... http://www.virology.ws/2011/12/06/ferreting-out-influenza-h5n1/ [virology.ws]

From your link: "A laboratory in the Netherlands has identified a lethal influenza H5N1 virus strain that is transmitted among ferrets."

The whole argument from your link about it not being as lethal as H5N1 is pure speculation - as he admits, we don't know transmissibility of the strain in humans, because we won't do that experiment. His basic argument is the virulence of the virus in humans is reduced by having the virus be transmitted through non-human hosts. This is not necessarily true - it depends on what species the virus is moving between. If a virus makes the leap from something further from humans (eg fish) to something closer to humans (eg pigs) then it becomes more dangerous to us. His argument may be correct in the case where you have an organism adapted very well to humans and you expose it to non-human transmission selective pressures, then it will probably evolve and become less adapted to humans. But this is not always the situation.

He also says:

Nature is far better at producing viruses that can kill – to think that we can duplicate the enormous diversity and selection pressures that occur in the wild is a severe case of scientific hubris.

Maybe he is right (at the moment) about manually targetted changes - but we are only going to get better at this over time. He has also ignored the practice of laboratory evolution [google.com] (or synthetic evolution), where nature is used in the lab to evolve or enhance certain characteristics of organisms. For a far-out plan, some rogue biologists could expose humans, see which ones are infected and die first, and then infect others with flu samples taken from those bodies. After repeating for some generations, this selective pressure may well produce a highly lethal and highly transmissible variant.

Re:Incorrect. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38890169)

He also says:

Nature is far better at producing viruses that can kill – to think that we can duplicate the enormous diversity and selection pressures that occur in the wild is a severe case of scientific hubris.

Evolutionary pressure goes to less lethal viruses because those have better ability to spread. There's a reason why the common cold is more widespread than the flu.

do you know what's as dangerous as false alarmism? (3, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#38890009)

false complacency

are you telling us it is impossible for someone to create something lethal and easily transmissible and release it, by mistake or on purpose?

if you are going to grant it is impossible but unlikely, do you not grant that the consequences are huge?

and giant tsunamis will never strike nuclear plants

and religious fundamentalists will never fly planes into office towers

there's many kinds of ignorant folly in this world

read, and educate yourself as to how your psychology and cognition fails you, and us:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_swan_theory [wikipedia.org]

Re:do you know what's as dangerous as false alarmi (1)

emilper (826945) | more than 2 years ago | (#38890181)

I am telling you that the research that was done on N5H1 is misreported

from http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/481443a.html [nature.com] :

viruses possessing a haemagglutinin (HA) protein from highly pathogenic avian H5N1 influenza viruses can become transmissible in ferrets

that is all, viruses with one of the proteins ( a type of largish organic molecule) that H5N1 is using to attack cells can also attack cells ...

this one has more details about how they got viruses with that particular protein http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature10884.html [nature.com] , with my emphasis added

To determine whether H5N1 viruses could be transmitted between humans, my team generated viruses that combined the H5 haemagglutinin (HA) gene with the remaining genes from a pandemic 2009 H1N1 influenza virus. Avian H5N1 and human pandemic 2009 viruses readily exchange genes in experimental settings, and those from a human virus may facilitate replication in mammals. Indeed, we identified a mutant H5 HA/2009 virus that spread between infected and uninfected ferrets (used as models to study the transmission of influenza in mammals) in separate cages via respiratory droplets in the air. Thus viruses possessing an H5 HA protein can transmit between mammals.

Our results also show that not all transmissible H5 HA-possessing viruses are lethal. In ferrets, our mutant H5 HA/2009 virus was no more pathogenic than the pandemic 2009 virus — it did not kill any of the infected animals. And, importantly, current vaccines and antiviral compounds are effective against it.

depressing ... ScyFy (and sci-fi too) should be forbidden and mandatory science + reading comprehension examinations be passed before getting the right to vote ... yeah, probably lethal viruses can be engineered (though I have not yet heard of any research that succeeded in doing it, probably my fault), but not using their methods

Re:do you know what's as dangerous as false alarmi (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#38890695)

You just completely ignored everything I said. I am fully cognizant of the danger and folly of ignorant false alarmism. I am talking about an equally dangerous folly: false complacency.

So I will spell it out for you: your complacency is not a product of your intellect and your education. It is a product of an emotional bias just as dangerous as the false alarmism we are both aware of, but for some reason, you see only the false alarmism as the danger on this topic. Failure in cognition on your part.

Re:do you know what's as dangerous as false alarmi (1)

emilper (826945) | more than 2 years ago | (#38890979)

oh, that was it ... missed the point ... my bad

please add to your list:

- birds leaving bread on electrical transformers serving hi-power installations (such as LHC), causing shorts and needing million €s in repairs

or please remember this, if your reading comprehension is suffering: the methods used by the Dutch researchers cannot be used to create dangerous virii

Re:do you know what's as dangerous as false alarmi (2)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38890275)

The resources in this world are finite and there are opportunity costs when doing one thing instead of another. In my opinion the cost:benefit and risk:reward ratio of this sort of research aren't good enough. Better to do something else first.

Many like to use the excuse that others will do it if "we" don't do it, and my reply is it'll at least be later rather than sooner, and it's still a stupid reason to do something, because as our technology improves we may start to have the capability to create the equivalent of a "Cheap Big Red Button That Kills Everyone", so do we put our resources into developing that first just because we can, or do we first concentrate on building a society where nobody would ever push such a button even if it exists?

Re:do you know what's as dangerous as false alarmi (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#38890547)

you can't build such a society. the outliers are natural. for example: schizophrenia. there is zero protection in trying to build a society without malintentioned individuals. there weill always be malintentioned individuals. you suggest a fool's errand

Re:do you know what's as dangerous as false alarmi (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38890585)

Then logically in the not so long run we are doomed if we persist in developing technologies that allow mass killing to be cheaper and easier.

Re:do you know what's as dangerous as false alarmi (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#38890755)

So we stop trying? We ignore our ability to gauge probability and costs and do nothing regardless of how cheap and easy some black swans cost to prevent?

The sun occasionally will zap us with enough solar wind/ radiation to induce current in sites that could knock out all power transformers on the northern hemisphere. Probability: very rare. Costs to prevent: low (small advance warning system of a few minutes, auto kick off transformers from long power lines).

Your advice is to do nothing even if the cost is low?

Re:do you know what's as dangerous as false alarmi (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38890821)

Read again. Where did I say do nothing?

Re:do you know what's as dangerous as false alarmi (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#38892749)

read, and educate yourself as to how your psychology and cognition fails you, and us:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_swan_theory [wikipedia.org] [wikipedia.org]

Don't read, because there is by definition no education in bullshit. Only brainwashing with aforementioned bullshit.

This "theory" is typical example of philosophical nonsense.

Don't.

Re:Incorrect. (2)

apcullen (2504324) | more than 2 years ago | (#38890433)

Here's the thing. Now IANAB (I am not a biologist) but I do know that biologists are scared that one day this virus could mutate on its own into something that spreads rapidly through humans. And I'm guessing--- just taking a wild guess here-- that if a researcher wanted to take a stab at creating a vaccine to prevent that kind of global pandemic then the first step would be to look at what form the mutated virus might take.

Extremely dangerous? Sure sounds like it to me.

This kind of research should never have been carried out? If the virus mutates on its own it will likely be too late to come up with a vaccine.

Call it dangerous. But don't call it useless.

Re:Incorrect. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38891139)

These experiments are not "extremely dangerous", they are absolutely necessary for us to combat these viruses. Instead of reading alarmist articles, maybe you should take the time to see what the scientists have to say. I recently listened to an interview with one of them, I wish I could remember where it was, but the information is out there. This is important research and should not be stopped or the results hidden from public view.

Re:Incorrect. (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 2 years ago | (#38891179)

The funniest thing is they didn't seem to see a problem with that at all. If you think about any of that for like ONE SECOND, you might think to yourself "Hmm maybe today instead of creating a superflu that could destroy ALL LIFE on earth, I'll just slack off and browse the web instead." These guys were like "Ok! Created superflu! Check! Now lets TELL EVERYBODY about it!" Hey everyone! Check out our new superflu! Yeah... it could kill everyone! Isn't that cool? Ok, I'm exaggerating a little there, but it really seems like there needs to be someone with actual warning bells installed somewhere in the process. Someone who can say "Yeah... let's NOT do that..."

FYI (3, Informative)

elsurexiste (1758620) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889115)

These people are an official panel of the US Department of Health. From Wikipedia:

It is tasked with recommending policies on such questions as how to prevent published research in biotechnology from aiding terrorism, without slowing scientific progress.

Just in case you've never heard of them (I know I haven't).

Re:FYI (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889373)

What's the difference between the US Department of Health and National Institute of Health (NIH)? I know the latter is part of the executive branch, but that'sit.

Re:FYI (3, Informative)

sirlark (1676276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889571)

The US Department of Health is concerned mainly with management of public health, maintianing the public health care system, and responding to widespread health emergencies. The NIH is a research body primarily involved with research in the health and biosciences, and with distributing funding to other organisations doing research in those fields.

Re:FYI (3, Informative)

dkf (304284) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889809)

What's the difference between the US Department of Health and National Institute of Health (NIH)? I know the latter is part of the executive branch, but that'sit.

They're both executive branch. The NIH are formally a part of the DoH, and have responsibility for doing (and coordinating) research for the department. There are similar arrangements in other departments (the DoD has DARPA, the DoE fund a number of national labs, etc.) and it's not very remarkable. In general, it's useful for the departments to have research arms in order to both provide solid scientifically-based advice on policy, and to gently encourage everyone else to do research that benefits the nation as well as themselves.

Re:FYI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38892423)

Is the US Department of Health a shortened form of the name "US Department of Health and Human Services"?

aka: DHHS?

Re:FYI (1)

Truekaiser (724672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38890309)

Except it's not possible to do that. Science works when the information is not censored and free to anyone with the skills and knowledge to build on it. By preventing stuff from being published like this for fear that someone somewhere 'might' use this in a way that $government doesn't want hinders progress.

One thing that I can think of off the top of my head that somone can use this research for is to make a virus that they can then alter its payload to say deliver gene thearpy with a high success rate.

Re:FYI (1)

elsurexiste (1758620) | more than 2 years ago | (#38890575)

Your proposition has been dealt with long ago by ethicists and epistemologists.

Consider the case of R&D for military applications. Frame your argument around the knowledge on how to build effective atomic bombs, for example. Think of arguments for and against publication, including whether publication hinders or promotes progress. Consider whether knowledge is ultimately morals-agnostic or is always permeated with the researcher's moral code at some point.

tl;dr : knowledge isn't always a positive thing. But were to draw the line is always debatable.

Re:FYI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38891227)

If I am the only one with a bomb/weapon/device that is capable of extreme levels of destruction, then I am capable of controlling pretty much everything and everyone, especially if "I" is a nation or similar group entity. This translates (to me) as dictator, whether direct or through coercion. Whether "I" am benevolent or not is up to me, and I will be writing the history books, so long as I destroy or defeat any insurgents or squash any attempts to question my integrity or "benevolence". Knowledge and information are man's greatest tools and weapons. If I share the tools, then I am increasing the output and capabilities of my subjects, be they individual, group, or nations. If I share the knowledge of weapons, I can be defeated. Whether my replacement is "good" or "evil" is subjective, and, again "they" will be writing those history books.

People in power seek to retain that power. Whether through force, or knowledge based threat of force can be largely irrelevant. If the subjected people are incapable of meaningful defense, the threat alone is enough, and all of that messy civil war stuff is avoided.

The control of knowledge is never a positive thing. I fully know and understand that bio-weapons and the like are severely dangerous. I also know that only the threat of a well armed citizenry will keep a government operating in a fashion that benefits all, not just the elite few.

Too many laws and too much reliance on a government to do the dirty work of raising children, and punishing genuinely evil folks is part of why people don't stop to help others, or intervene in a crime. It is EVERY man, woman and child's freedom they can enjoy, up to the level that they are willing do defend it, and do what is right. There's so much more to say along the lines of taking care of our own neighborhoods and towns, instead of waiting for some "official" entity to define what is "right".

Empower everyone, and then everyone lives cleaner, and acts more decent, because (at least in the U.S.) there is more than enough of everything we NEED, so the things we want will largely be worked for, due to fear of death while taking what we want, or public hanging.

ETC.

Re:FYI (1)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 2 years ago | (#38890423)

Recommending censorship of scientific literature is extremely dangerous ground, and a precedent which could lead to the halt of scientific advancement on earth if the limit is applied (mathematically).

Scientific advancement generally lets us do difficult things more easily. Humans are reasonably resilient to other humans, but still rather delicate and fragile over the spectrum of physical and chemical (biological) forces. Scientific advancement will allow an individual human to apply physical and chemical (biological) forces at a greater magnitude; surpassing the difficulty barriers in place for a naked individual.

It is already relatively trivial to wipe out a large number of humans with scientific advancement - poisoning wells was first implemented millenia ago. An ordinary Western kitchen has everything you need to make an IED in five minutes. Eventually (and not too far in the future), an ordinary household could contain everything needed to design the next pandemic (just modify your bio-LEGO set, or corrupt your dodo home cloning kit [jasperfforde.com] ). A byproduct of scientific advancement will be the increased triviality of wholesale death; thus the desire for censorship. The problem is that we will hit a point where any further advancement in a field would result in making it too easy for the skulker in the shadows so all research in that field would be halted by censorship.

The problem is ultimately social and not scientific in nature. Should scientists pause progress and wait for social advancement to catch up in responsibility, or is social advancement primarily a reaction feedback mechanism which needs the ethical dilemmas produced by science to move forward? Will we ever get to a point socially where no one on earth would be capable of setting lose the deathly horrors? To identify and cure every sociopath, to have every extremist cause sits at a table. Is such a thing possible? If not, should we freeze scientific advancement to limit the damages which could be caused?

This is not a question which can be balanced without weighing the potential trade offs. It may be trivial these days to make an IED, but it is also trivial to cure the bubonic plague. The comparative risk of bringing new life into the world is trivial, producing enough food for a scientific nation is trivial, sharing ideas and communicating with friends and enemies alike... Eventually curing influenza, HIV, cancer, and even old age could be trivial.

Right now, NSABB has decided we're not ready for the next step of scientific advancement (science without publication is dead"). As I started with in the beginning - this is dangerous ground, but I can see their reasoning. We're standing at the leading edge of a great tunnel, when not just nation states with coordinated effort can destroy the world, but hidden men in basements and kitchens can do the same. We could stay here in the dusk, but for myself, I think I'd rather adventure onward and take my chances with the skulker in the shadows rather than cutting power to the light at the end of the tunnel.

Wrong way around (5, Funny)

gtch (1977476) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889147)

If they don't want anyone to read the papers, they should print off millions of copies with an official-looking government cover, then send them out all over the country with big letters on the envelope: "Important Information from Your Government".

That guarantees no-one will read it.

Re:Wrong way around (5, Funny)

chromas (1085949) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889235)

Or staple together said millions of copies and submit them to the House/Senate as a bill.

Re:Wrong way around (5, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889399)

Nobody would read it, and it would pass.

Re:Wrong way around (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#38891835)

Nobody would read it, and it would pass.

A leaf blew onto his desk, and he signed it. (Earl Long of Oscar O.K. Allen)

Re:Wrong way around (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#38892205)

At this time of year? Everyone is expecting tax returns so your idea would fail hard!

reproducible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38889155)

> At least one of the research groups says that their work should be logically reproducible.

I would hope that all papers are reproducible... since one of the criteria for doing "science" is that your results are falsifiable... that is, someone can rerun your experiment to prove you wrong.

Re:reproducible? (1)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889257)

I have a feeling what they meant by "reproducible" is that it can be easly done, or easly to come up with the idea itself.

Quick (1, Offtopic)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889203)

Call Dustin Hoffman and tell him Gary Sinese is immune

Re:Quick (4, Funny)

RDW (41497) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889259)

Call Dustin Hoffman and tell him Gary Sinese is immune

It's the supporting cast you have to worry about. From the Washington Post article:

"Fears of bad actors spreading a mutant, highly transmissible virus suffuse the three-page note published by the board."

lol ... why international law? NIH in the US! (0)

acidfast7 (551610) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889213)

Nor will they ever be binding as one of the groups is based in Europe and one of the journals is published/hq'd in Europe. Why would their law (NIH is based in the US) ever be binding to a group/publication not based in the US. The US needs to a refresher course in jurisdiction.

Re:lol ... why international law? NIH in the US! (4, Insightful)

equex (747231) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889325)

Afaik, this research is also locked down and kept secret in Europe for the same reasons as in the US. These strains of flu viruses are well understood and is probably one of the easiest to modify given the knowledge and research already done. I know little of the subject, but let's say the Stuxnet code was published and all that was needed to make it take down 70% of the nuclear plants in the world at the same time by simply uncommenting a ''Fuxx0rThemAllSimultaneously()' function call. Even a novice programmer would figure that out. Maybe that flu virus is analogous, and requires not much else than a novice fucking around with it to make it uber-deadly. I'd prefer they kept it hidden.

Re:lol ... why international law? NIH in the US! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38889651)

Except that the flu virus itself is all around, and ability to analyse is widespread, too, especially among those who would be able to manipulate it. And the information about what sort of thing to look for now is out, too. Therefore I think it's highly improbable that someone who wants to create such a flu to harm people and would have the ability to do so will be stopped by not publishing. On the other hand, legitimate research on how to stop such a flu will be negatively affected.

Re:lol ... why international law? NIH in the US! (4, Insightful)

oreaq (817314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889685)

[...] but let's say the Stuxnet code was published [...]

Most of it was decompiled and published here [github.com] . You can find all the binaries online if you're really interested. Hiding the results is just security by obscurity. The Dutch scientist didn't perform some magic trick that nobody else can do. Doesn't make it any less scary though.

if it's that easy, you can't keep it hidden. (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889825)

things that are basically obvious to people with ordinary knowledge needed by any industrial worker, well, you cant keep them secret.

nuclear weapons, for example, are not hard to build. the hard part is scraping together enough enriched uranium.

Re:lol ... why international law? NIH in the US! (1)

acidfast7 (551610) | more than 2 years ago | (#38891229)

you're missing the point. i'm not arguing that it should/shouldn't be locked down. i'm arguing that an NIH has no LEGAL right over a UK publisher and a Dutch group. i'm a biochemist and understand the science. i don't understand how anyone at the NIH could impose their LEGAL will on a european funding agency or research group

Re:lol ... why international law? NIH in the US! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38891449)

Legal will? What are you talking about? Go read TFA. It clearly states that the "Science Panel" recommended the papers be published with the methodology removed. No law there. The only mention of anything binding is in the (sensationalist) description of the second article. Read the role of the NSABB. It only advises and recommends. And the NIH only conducts research and provides funding for research. You display a fundamental misunderstanding of US law. I guess if you wanted to pretend so that you would have another reason to hate the US, I can't stop you.

Re:lol ... why international law? NIH in the US! (1)

acidfast7 (551610) | more than 2 years ago | (#38891539)

From the description of the second article: "The NSABB's censorship recommendations do not (currently) have the force of law, but Science and Nature voluntarily delayed publication." I don't understand why they would ever have the force of law. I understand exactly what the board and the NIH (I have funding) do. I also understand what the research is about. I don't understand what the hell the /. summary is getting at.

Re:lol ... why international law? NIH in the US! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38891377)

So only our masters have it. You know, just in case you decide to question their overt over-consumption or authority to monitor your every movement, indoctrinate your children to their views, or imprison you for different world views.

Interesting parallel to I.T. (4, Interesting)

Kinky Bass Junk (880011) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Interesting parallel to I.T. (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889507)

If you are trying to draw parallels with IT you are making the same mistake as those who think theft and copyright infringement are the same or those who want physical retaliation against a "cyberwar". In IT we can have bulletproof defences, but IRL sadly we can't. Biological warfare is a very real threat that could destroy the current nuclear peace we live in. We shouldn't make it easier for the bad guys by doing the research for them. Now if this paper turns out to be unharmful it can always be released later.

Re:Interesting parallel to I.T. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38890053)

It's exactly an IT problem. Where do you think IT got its metaphors for self-replicating code *from*?

Re:Interesting parallel to I.T. (1)

Monchanger (637670) | more than 2 years ago | (#38890233)

In IT we can have bulletproof defences, but IRL sadly we can't.

You don't sound like you're in IT.

All software is vulnerable- "secure" is just a way of saying "has not been proven insecure yet".

Re:Interesting parallel to I.T. (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38890391)

True but you can still have much stronger defenses on a computer. A person is like a computer with a ton of ports open to known-vulnerable services that relies entirely on IDS and antivirus to prevent a complete rooting.

Or to look at it another way, a properly locked-down computer is like a person in a hazmat suit - except that to the computer it isn't a massive PITA.

Re:Interesting parallel to I.T. (1)

Monchanger (637670) | more than 2 years ago | (#38890619)

Or to look at it another way, a properly locked-down computer is like a person in a hazmat suit - except that to the computer it isn't a massive PITA.

Not a PITA? Tell that to computers who are burdened with a Norton suite installation. :)

But seriously, there's some truth to what you're saying, but the problem is "proper" lockdown isn't common, and certainly not as easy as buying a suit. The average system, and even the average server maintained by a paid "professional", is quite vulnerable. Those who do properly lock-down are still merely (to really beat this analogy to death...) wearing a hazmat suit with a defective zipper. It's never actually secure- it needs constant monitoring and updating and that is a massive PITA.

Re:Interesting parallel to I.T. (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38890549)

All software is vulnerable- "secure" is just a way of saying "has not been proven insecure yet".

Which is much more than what you can hope for in real life situations.

Re:Interesting parallel to I.T. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38890299)

Unfortunately, you can't "patch" human bodies like you can patch software.

Sometimes it's possible to develop a vaccine - but flu vaccines are only effective for one particular virus strain. A new one would have to be developed, distributed, and injected for each strain that scientists or evolution develops. And my guess would be that 6 billion out of the 7 billion people on Earth would not be able to afford it.

And so it starts ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38889247)

Tasers were promoted as less-lethal alternatives to guns now they are readily used in circumstances where no cop would think of using a gun. TSA spreading its tentacles slowly from airports to trains and metros and even random highway searches. Example after example.

Re:And so it starts ... (3, Insightful)

siddesu (698447) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889363)

What "starts"? Withholding scientific publications because of various "national security" concerns is most definitely not a new practice.

I think it's no coincidence (4, Funny)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889277)

Just look at the fact that the bird flu story is directly after then Angry Birds story. Maybe it's just the fact that I'm waking up at 3am and later about 5-something AM, but I think there's more than just a casual connection here. Look at the facts:

1. Both about birds.
2. Both about people unable to control themselves.
3. One is about a bird virus, the other about birds going viral.

There is something at play here... not sure what it is just yet...

Re:I think it's no coincidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38889415)

*Casual* connection? ;-)

Re:I think it's no coincidence (1)

fedos (150319) | more than 2 years ago | (#38891733)

I had problems with that, too. Then I realized that "more than just a causal connection" doesn't make sense either. Bottom line: erroneous needs to get more sleep.

Re:I think it's no coincidence (4, Funny)

a_hanso (1891616) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889433)

Late stage angry bird flu will cause the sufferer to repeatedly fling himself at any loose assemblage of bricks, wood or stone in the vicinity.

Re:I think it's no coincidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38889435)

I suspect that it's just a viral marketing campain for Pandemic V: Angry Flu - The Madagascar Lockdown

Re:I think it's no coincidence (4, Funny)

goldaryn (834427) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889475)

The green sickly pigs in Angry Birds were inspired by the Swine Flu epidemic [wikipedia.org]

I like to imagine that the back-story is: the birds are angry because they are in biological warfare with their piggy enemies. Avian flu... swine flu...

Re:I think it's no coincidence (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 2 years ago | (#38890421)

Bavarian illuminati are planning something

The current security craze... (2)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889453)

...leads even scientific circles astray, to do things modern science would not have lowered itself to do as litte as a mere decade ago. How sad.

Re:The current security craze... (1)

oreaq (817314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889765)

Keeping certain scientific discoveries secret was SOP during the cold war.

Re:The current security craze... (1)

GillyGuthrie (1515855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38890027)

Well, it's in the name our national defense... so anything goes. What a slippery slope.

Re:The current security craze... (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38890451)

Worse yet, from what I understand enough information has leaked out so that anyone with the right education can already do this without too much difficulty, so trying to censor it is just whipping up the Streissand Effect.

Angry Bird filed a patent... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38889513)

and a corrupt politician received a generous donation from them?

Oh Great. (3, Insightful)

headkase (533448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889591)

Anyone who has half-a-background in virology would have had this stroke of inspiration by now. So what has been accomplished with this ban? Well, lot's of attention has now been brought on the matter to alert the quarter-brained ones.

Perhaps only a matter of time (1)

GauteL (29207) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889617)

.. before someone crazy enough to release such a virus is capable of creating one. At least up until now, the people capable tend to have a mind reasonable enough to show restraint about it.

If it gets easier to do, this may no longer be the case, and so there may be only a matter of time. That doesn't mean we have to help it along by publishing the information necessary to create one in public access journals. If censoring these articles delays the inevitable by just a few months, that is either a few months that can be spent trying to combat it, or even just a few months of extra life for hundreds of millions of people.

let peer review determine it (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889697)

seems to me a collective of respected, well known and conscientous scientists, or even professors, should be the ones determining securuty concerns.

Even terrorists wouldn't release this (4, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889723)

Since they'd kill their own people and snuff out their cause.

However that still leaves the deranged , which unfortunately there are a lot of on the planet. Though whether they could be deranged enough AND smart enough at the same time to do it is another matter.

Re:Even terrorists wouldn't release this (1)

Fished (574624) | more than 2 years ago | (#38890253)

So, your theory is that terrorists aren't deranged?!??

Re:Even terrorists wouldn't release this (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38891595)

Of course they aren't deranged. Not the leaders, anyway. The actual suicide bombers tend to suffer from severe depression.

The leaders are businessmen. They are in the business of making money off of insider knowledge ("hey, bad stuff is going to happen on day X, affecting markets Y and Z") and raising money from hatred.

I mean, look down at Mexico and the blood spilled over drugs. You can call them deranged, but they aren't doing it because they love drugs. They're doing it because they can make money.

Pretending that actions don't have understandable causes, that someone's simply irrational, only prevents us from understanding it in its own terms, which means we will have little chance of stopping it.

Re:Even terrorists wouldn't release this (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38890387)

Um, you have heard of "suicide bombers", right?

Re:Even terrorists wouldn't release this (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#38890483)

You've heard of soliders "going over the top" to certain death to save their buddies right?

Sacrificing yourself for what you think is a greater good is fanatical, usually evil and may ultimately be fruitless but its not deranged.

Re:Even terrorists wouldn't release this (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38890473)

Since they'd kill their own people and snuff out their cause.

Yeah, that's why they never suicide bomb their own neighborhoods or taunt superpowers into invading their countries OH WAIT

Re:Even terrorists wouldn't release this (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#38892149)

Yeah, that's why they never suicide bomb their own neighborhoods

Yep, quite so. They generaly move into another neighbohood, and them bomb that other one.

or taunt superpowers into invading their countries

You can't blame the terrorists for the US modus operant of terrorizing nations that can't protect themselves. But, anyway, last time I saw, the US didn't have a track record of going after the terrorists' nations (Are you talking about the Taliban? They are from Saudi Arabia). They mostly go after who the terrorists' nations tell them to go.

Re:Even terrorists wouldn't release this (2)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38891559)

Great novel 1945 by James Herbet:

OK- complete fiction- but it lays down the scenario. Hitler faced with almost certain defeat releases a virus that kills most people on earth- and of the few survivors- most of them are dying slow deaths. He hoped releasing the virus would deflect his enemies from attacking him.

OK- now that is complete fiction that obviously never happened. However, there could be a scenario where someone feeling there back is against the wall feels that the best solution is to make everyone suffer equally. People ask- why worry if North Korea or Iran have nukes- they won't use them they don't want to get nuked in retaliation.

Well- if you're facing certain defeat- you could go to extreme measures if you think you're going to lose anyway. There are quasi-rational reasons to release such a virus.

A deadly fast-spreading virus could be an easier to produce "weapon of last resort" than nuclear weapons. The evil imperialist capitalist dogs of America are preparing an invasion of your communist paradise- you have no hope of winning? What do you do? infect the major cities of your enemy with the "capitalist-swine flu". With millions at home dying- the evil US might turn there focus away from war. Sure- the virus will eventually kill most of humanity- even on your island...but it buys you a little time.

Or what about simply for revenge. If we're going down- you're coming with us. Release the Flu.

Ideological reasons- God will save the righteous- only the wicked will get the flu. Perhaps man has become too evil- it is time to start anew- release the virus that will send us back to medieval times.

There are any number of quasi-intelligent reasons to release such a virus.

Great... (1)

GillyGuthrie (1515855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889965)

... more government intervention involving suppression of information.

And yet (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 2 years ago | (#38889985)

Finding a way to unlock and defeat H1N1, et al will continue to be massively underfunded because drones are cooler and my taxes are just too damn high.

Re:And yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38890425)

And because H1N1 is not a serious disease. It is not even as severe as the normal, seasonal flu.

The important secret is already out. (4, Interesting)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38890453)

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.

Anyone else thinking... (1)

picoboy (1868294) | more than 2 years ago | (#38890457)

Streisand effect for would-be bioterrorists?

Re:Anyone else thinking... (1)

retroworks (652802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38890841)

Damn, I was just writing that I'm less worried about Al Qaeda reading scientific journals on bird flu than I am about Al Qaeda reading about censorship over security concerns, titled "Streisand Effect" . I was going to give thanks to Slashdot for killing us all by flagging this for weaponization or Streisand-Andromeda-Flu. Then I got worried that I could be contributing to our doom by making the connection, and trying to word this in pig latin so that it wouldn't give any ideas. Then... you scooped me by posting first. More for the list of FirstWorldProblems

Re:Anyone else thinking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38892121)

I don't have any mod points. #FirstWorldProblem

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