Scientists are cautiously optimistic that the U.S. government will relax some proposed security restrictions that would limit foreign-born researchers' access to sensitive technology when the rules are issued next year.

"If these rules were implemented as suggested, it would have a dramatic and very harmful effect," said Tobin Smith, senior federal relations officer at the Association of American Universities (AAU). "It's antithetical to what we do at universities," he told The Scientist.

In March, 2005, the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) issued proposed regulations to restrict scientists born in India, China, Russia, and certain other countries from using sensitive laboratory equipment, or having access to information or technology with military potential without an export license. The Department of Defense followed suit in July by requiring these foreign-born nationals wear special identification badges and be restricted to "segregated work areas" at universities and companies conducting unclassified...

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