Fearing Damage To “Cultural Heritage,” Canadian Government Probing iBookstore

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There is a persistent — and perhaps understandable — fear on the part of some Canadians that viral American culture is overwhelming Canada’s own cultural heritage, but a recent decision by Canada’s Privacy Council Office to probe Apple’s iBookstore seems like it borders on paranoia.

The order, first issued on August 20th, puts Apple and iBooks under scrutiny to make sure that the large e-bookstore “aids Canadian culture,” a vague responsibility to be sure. The authority comes from section 15 of the Investment Canada Act, which allows the government to review any investment that “is related to Canada’s cultural heritage or national identity.”

A probe is just a probe, and it seems, for right now, like Canada wants to make sure of Apple’s plans before they allow the full launch of the iBookstore to go through. It seems strange, however, that Apple would be put up the standard of being “of direct cultural benefit to Canada.” How can the widespread proliferation of millions of books be suspected of being a detriment to culture? At least twenty or thirty of those books have to be written by Canadians, right?