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Cry freedom

Scientists' ability to publish research and share findings remains under threat from planned UK legislation.

Pat Hagan(phagan@btinternet.com)

LONDON — Critics have renewed their attacks on the UK's proposed export control bill after the government rejected amendments that would have preserved researchers' freedom to publish new data and share their findings.

The amendments — put forward by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats — had already been passed by the House of Lords in April. But they were thrown out by the government in favour of its own alternative measures.

The export control bill is the culmination of the Scott inquiry into the 'arms to Iraq' affair back in 1996, which revealed loopholes in the legislation governing the export of defence equipment. Anxious to limit the scope for potentially sensitive information to fall into the hands of terrorists or extremist regimes, ministers began drafting the new legislation four years ago.

But according to some groups, what has emerged is a package of proposals that could potentially allow future...

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