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July 10, 2000 - Image 4

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2000-07-10

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, July 10, 2000
Edited and managed by GEOFF GAGNON PETER CUNNIFFE
students at the Editor in Chief JOsH WICKERHANM
University of Michigan Editorial Page Editors S
Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion o% the
420 Maynard Street nuitr ofhe Dail s editorial boardAll other articles, letersand
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 artoon C1i in/o ne /i ariireijeet the opinion //ifhe Michigan Dail .

This fall's presidential debates promise to
be exciting and perhaps unusually influ-
ential with the likelihood of a close presi-
dential race this year. Unfortunately, and as
usual, only the Democratic and Republican
candidates are likely to be allowed into the
debates, even as some third party candidates
look increasingly likely to run serious cam-
paigns and have a major influence on the
outcome of the election.
Green party candidate Ralph Nader and
likely Refonr party candidate Pat Buchanan
are presenting points of view espoused by
neither major party candidate and their
showings in the polls - while not anywhere
near as large as Bush or Gore's - represent
substantial numbers of people. That their
ideas have been appealing enough to gain a
significant following even without the
money and press attention of major candi-
dates demonstrates that these are serious
candidates who can contribute to debates
about the direction of this country and who
deserve to debate the major party candidates.
It has become accepted by my most peo-
ple, most media outlets and nearly every

Open the debates
Third party candidates should have a voice

politician that in all political decisions
Americans have only two choices. Ideas and
candidates outside of the Democratic and
Republican parties, as practical, beneficial
and widely supported as they may be, are
never taken seriously by anyone in office or
the mainstream media. They are pushed aside
as if nothing suggested outside the major par-
ties is even worthy of consideration.
Even as more people are choosing to
affiliate themselves with neither of the two
major parties, the Republicans and
Democrats have continued to act as if poli-
tics only exists for the two sides of the same
coin they represent.
And most people have come to just
accept the two-party stranglehold on their
government. This situation has allowed the
two major parties to lay claim to nearly all

corporate, union and special interest support
and money, which they use to buy advertis-
ing and further reinforce their images as the
only two choices in politics.
Democracy is not about being presented
with the same choice year after year. The
people of this country deserve the opportu-
nity to be exposed to new ideas, third parties,
different candidates and real choices. The
refusal of most journalistic outlets to devote
much attention even to serious third party
candidates, other than occassionally opining
about trouble they might cause for the major
party candidates, and their inability to buy
attention through the commercials that
major party candidates can buy, mean that
the most realistic chance for these candi-
dates' ideas to be heard is in the presidential
debates.

However, the debates are organized by a
debate commission completely made up of
Democrats and Republicans who are intent
on keeping third parties out of the picture.
Realistically, it would take support of t
major parties' presidential candidates to IM
anyone else into the debates, as was done in
1992. They should recognize the stagnation
that has gripped political participation in this
country and realize that the number of peo-
ple voting will only continue to fall. If real
alternatives to the political scene's status quo
remain hidden from public view, Americans
will continue to become less and less inter-
ested in politics. Civic life will become
steadily less meaningful.
If the two major candidates and th
parties are interested in the well-being 31
this nation's political system and the health
of its democracy, it is about time they real-
ized our political system needs to be
opened up to those they have been so
assiduously forcing out for so many years.
Only real choices and new points of view
will get the public interested in the direc-
tion of this country again.

w

Cookie monsters
Online privacy needs legislation
The White House's Office of National top leaders of the ONDCP had no idea per-
Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) came sonal data was being profiled on their sites
under fire recently for tracking users on fed- until the press broke the story warrants con-
erally funded anti-drug websites. Armed cern.
with a $12 million advertising budget, the The ONDCP is given unnecessary free
ONDCP bought ad space on major search reign and uses too many tax dollars in its pro-
engines and directed drug-related searches hibitory drug messages. Whether allegations
to federal sites that collected personal data of misuse of personal data in both private or
from users with Internet cookies via governmental instances are substantiated,
DoubleClick, an online advertising and mar- new legislative attention is required to protect
keting giant. Cookies are the small text files consumers from watchful eyes of both gov-
stored on personal computers which track ernmental and private power on the Internet.
Internet traffic via banner ads or websites. Earlier this year, Michigan Attorney
This practice has enraged many online pri- General Jennifer Granholm accused
vacy experts and was rightfully discontinued DoubleClick of violating Michigan's
by the ONDCP after the story broke. Consumer Protection Act. Granholm said in
While the ONDCP says they were only a statement, "Forget Big Brother. Truly, Big
collecting raw statistical data and that no Browser appears to have arrived in the form
users were tracked by the planted cookies, of an Internet corporate giant. Companies
any amount of personal information collect- like DoubleClick take advantage of the tech-
ed by the government without full consent nology to rob people of their privacy."
-- much less user knowledge - is a viola- DoubleClick has also recently begun
tion of federal policy and a breach of priva- combining their over 90 million personal
cy. Federal policy states that the White Internet user profiles with hard data, such as
House and agency web sites must have names and addresses. Their practices differ
clearly posted privacy policies. Although the little from other online companies like
ONDCP has since abandoned cookie use, Yahoo!, AOL or Microsoft in their zeal to
online privacy remains a hotly contested collect as much user data as possible.
issue with implications beyond allegations Through private efforts, the Internet has
of governmental misconduct. become a maze of interconnected data col-
The personal data collected by private lecting mechanisms showing all the signs of
powers remains a formidable threat to priva- significant intensification. The privacy of
cy. The ONDCP has maintained close ties to online users is at stake, especially with the
private interests before. Earlier this year, wave of fizzled e-commerce burnouts sell-
drug czar Barry McCaffrey, the top official ing data to larger corporations. Data that was
at the ONDCP, came under fire for his clan- once used by independent companies is now
destine program of selling back advertising being amassed by Internet conglomerates at
space to television networks who agreed to a frenzied pace. New privacy legislation
integrate anti-drug messages into prime time must be enacted before consumers are put at
prograimning. These covert propaganda pro- further risk. New measures must also be
grams lend little credibility to ONDCP or its taken to reign in the Office of National Drug
message. On the cookie matter, the fact that Control Policy.

Beautiful buildings
Construction alternatives would benefit 'U'

When news of the possible demolition
of the Frieze building was released
earlier this year, few people complained.
The decrepit building that many students
loathed having classes in is unlikely to be
missed by most if it is indeed torn down.
The need for the University to have the best
facilities possible makes this step wholly
welcome.
The only probable downside to the loss
of the Frieze building would be the distinc-
tive structure's likely replacement with one
of the Randall Lab-type facilities that have
proliferated throughout campus. Much of
the new construction and renovations at the
University for the past few years have
resulted in more "modern" appearing facil-
ities that hold little of the character of older
campus buildings and largely ignore the
aesthetic qualities and distinctiveness that
most Universities strive for. Plans for new
projects, such as the Life Sciences Institute
and the renovations of Haven Hall, show
that the University will unfortunately be
sticking with this building strategy, which
could eventually leave much of central
campus looking like a low-rent office park
-- similar to North Campus.
It is understandable that the primary
concern of the University's planners is the
quality of education and a focus on pro-
grams and faculty over buildings. But it is
also saddening to see many of our most
beautiful structures being crowded out,
overshadowed and sometimes replaced by
the new cookie-cutter buildings. The
University is in better financial shape than
it has ever been, but all of its most notable
and attractive facilities were constructed
decades ago.
The University should consider con-
structing buildings with distinctive appeal

to students. The Law Quad, for example,
leaves an impression on students, visitors
and alumni alike.
Another approach the University should
consider when drawing plans for new c
struction is a focus on environmenta
friendly building materials and construc-
tion techniques. Passive solar or day-light-
ed buildings usually cost less to build than
normal buildings and significantly cut
down on energy costs. These construction
techniques cut down on the cost of heating
and cooling by providing adequate ventila-
tion through ingenious design techniques,
not costly heating and cooling syste
While the University has every reason o
examine environmentally conscious
designs for ethical reasons, the savings pro-
vided by these buildings in heating, cooling
and lighting costs alone should warrant a
closer look by the Regents and building
planners. The University's "Master Plan"
should also include such alternatives.
The aesthetic appeal of environmentally
friendly buildings and other non-office
park look-alikes would lend a distincti
flair to our campus. While cookie-cu
buildings are often easier to design and
construct, the University has a responsibili
ty to set an environmentally conscious
example. New buildings should incorporate
earth-friendly alternatives to the bland glass
and brick monoliths that now crowd much
of Central Campus.
Justifying the use of time and resource
on more interesting, unique and enviro
mentally friendly buildings can be diffk
but hopefully the administration an
regents believe the University deserves t
be set apart from other schools and b
something more than a collection of offic
buildings.

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