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American Mathematical Society
Policy Statement on Open Science and Security

The AMS is deeply concerned about the consequences of potentially inappropriate restrictions on foreigners, particularly at national laboratories. Such restrictions could harm U.S. national interests by impeding scientific progress, could weaken the nation's role as a key player in the international scientific community, and could endanger international cooperative activities that bolster our national security and well-being. At the same time, the AMS clearly recognizes the importance of protecting U.S. national security interests from foreign espionage.

A 1995 report from the Academies' National Research Council, "A Review of the Department of Energy Classification Policy and Practice," urged DOE to adopt the following principle: "Construct high fences around narrow areas." That is, it recommended that the department maintain very stringent security around sharply defined and narrowly circumscribed areas, but reduce or eliminate classification around areas of lesser sensitivity. The report endorsed the view that scientific openness in unclassified areas is key to the health of the scientific enterprise.

New restrictions on interactions with foreign scientists would be damaging in ways we cannot fully anticipate. DOE national laboratories necessarily engage, not only in classified military work but also in basic scientific research and educational programs, as well as technology transfer activities that stimulate scientific innovations and important new applications of technology. Over the course of many years, immigrant scientists as well as foreign visitors and students have contributed enormously to the American scientific enterprise. Any negative characterization of scientists on the basis of ethnic or national origins is destructive to science and American values.

Therefore, the AMS endorses the use of procedures which balance the needs of science and security in accordance with the recommendations of the National Academy of Science as described in its recent report "Balancing Scientific Openness and National Security Controls at the Nation's Nuclear Weapons Laboratories."

Adopted by the Council in March 2000 so as to speak in the name of the American Mathematical Society.


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