Stephen Maurer

Industry self-governance: a new way to manage dangerous technologies

Stephen Maurer and Sebastian von Engelhardt write for Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May/June, 2013

Private standards don’t have the power of government behind them—they can’t send offenders to prison—but they can threaten something that businesses fear almost as much: bankruptcy. And these new private standards can usually be implemented faster than government regulations. Better still, they ignore national borders.

Safe and fruitful DNA innovation

Stephen Maurer writes letter to The Wall Street Journal, October 22, 2012

Synthetic biologists have pursued various initiatives to make their field safer since the anthrax letters of 2001. By far the most important involves the commercial “gene synthesis” companies whose artificial DNA makes synthetic biology possible in the first place. In 2009, the European trade group International Association-Synthetic Biology announced a strong antiterrorism standard that requires human experts to examine incoming customer orders for biological weapons threats. Like most industry standards, the proposal was contentious.

Stephen Maurer Questions New Synthetic DNA Screening Guidelines

Nature News, October 18, 2010 by Heidi Ledford

Stephen Maurer … adds that the guidelines call for an initial automated screen of sequences by computer, a less stringent survey than getting employees to analyse each order as it comes in, as many companies already do. “You have a strange situation in which the US government is urging a lower security standard on the world,” he says.

Stephen Maurer Supports Security Standards for Synthetic DNA Screening

Nature News, November 4, 2009 by Corie Lok

“The next thing we will do is to reach out to everyone in the industry with this standard and invite them to join it,” says Stephen Maurer, a lawyer and expert in public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, who helped to formulate the code. “And in the nature of standards wars, if enough people do that, the war will be over.”

Stephen Maurer Creates Unique Web Portal to Review ‘Experiments of Concern’

Nature News, February 4, 2009 by Erika Check Hayden

“There is an instinct in the community that if you think you’re talking about an experiment of concern, you should ask someone — but biosecurity people are scarce on the average campus,” he says. The portal is designed to be a help, rather than a burden, in these situations. “People have enough layers of paperwork in their lives,” says Maurer. “The idea is to make this as painless as possible.”