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Are there any U.S. or U.K. laws that prevent academic research papers or journals from being published? Can academics outline the methodology of illegal activities?

For example, could a computer security researcher publish a paper on unknown server vulnerabilities?

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Eugene Volokh categorizes this as "crime-facilitating speech" in his articles, "The Freedom of Speech and Bad Purposes", and "Crime-Facilitating Speech".

He characterizes the situation like this:

Some chemistry textbooks discuss how explosives are made, some posts to computer security discussion groups discuss security bugs in a leading operating system, and some works on criminology or forensics discuss how hard-to-solve murders are committed. May the explicitly politically connected speech be treated as more valuable than the scientific speech? The Supreme Court has never decided a case squarely involving the suppression of scientific speech, but it has repeatedly described scientific speech as constitutionally equal in value to political speech.

He presents a split amongst the circuits and statutes regarding mens rea for crimes stemming from such speech. The Supreme Court has not ruled on the issue.

In one example case, the 9th Circuit ruled that merely distributing computer code "with the knowledge that it would likely be used for bookmaking" could be punished. Other cases have held that speech must "purposely" rather than incidentally inform people how to commit a crime in order for that speech to be punished.

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Are there any U.S. or U.K. laws that prevent academic research papers or journals from being published?

Yes. Certain kinds of mathematical research pertaining to cryptography are classified for national defense purposes by the NSA. I suspect that other kinds of research that disclose classified defense technology could also be classified and prevented from being published.

For example, if a paper published the detailed authorization code software for U.S. nuclear missiles currently in use, that could probably be classified and prevented from being published.

In general, the restrictions would be easier to make in the U.K. which does not have a robust first amendment constitutional protection of free speech, than it would be in the U.S.

Can academics outline the methodology of illegal activities?

Yes. Describing how illegal activities are conducted generally does not violate the law.

However, this does not absolve the investigators from criminal liability if it was committed in the course of doing the research as opposed to publishing it. Also, publishing methodology of illegal activities is likely to make you a suspect when a crime is committed using those methods that you could possibility have committed.

For example, could a computer security researcher publish a paper on unknown server vulnerabilities?

Yes.

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    It's worth noting that 18 USC 798 limits the forbidden classified material to encryption and communication devices, or obtained from a foreign government, but not generically "anything classified". – user6726 Apr 22 '17 at 21:11

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