MK challenges fax’s outdated rule over Israeli bureaucracy
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MK challenges fax’s outdated rule over Israeli bureaucracy

New bill seeks to force public offices throughout the startup nation to accept email communication

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

Illustrative image of a fax machine. (via Shutterstock)
Illustrative image of a fax machine. (via Shutterstock)

The well-worn bureaucratic excuse that your request has not been dealt with because “your fax never arrived” will soon be a thing of the past in Israel — if a bill to scrap the machine’s hegemony in public offices becomes law.

“It’s inconceivable that in 2017, citizens are forced to use a technology that is not accessible and whose time has passed,” reads the bill, submitted by the Likud party’s youngest lawmaker, Sharren Haskel, and approved Sunday by the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.

Despite Israel’s affinity for technology — 89.2 percent of families with children own a computer and 75.0% have an internet connection, according to three-year-old government statistics — a plethora of central and local government departments, corporations and other large public concerns still insist that all communication be conducted by fax, even though many households no longer even own a fax machine.

Beyond removing the inconvenience, the bill says, providing the option of email correspondence will save paper and ink, and therefore be more environmentally friendly, and will ensure that documents do not go astray.

Likud MK Sharren Haskel attends a debate of the Knesset Health Committee regarding a reform to ease access to medical cannabis, January 9, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
Likud MK Sharren Haskel attends a debate of the Knesset Health Committee regarding a reform to ease access to medical cannabis, January 9, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)

“As if it’s not enough to burden service recipients with the need to find a fax machine to send a letter, ” the proposal says, “when they do make contact with the service provider, they’re likely to come up against the excuse that the fax or letter never arrived.”

The proposed legislation, which must now make its way through the Knesset if it is to become law, will oblige a raft of offices to allow email communication, among them government ministries, educational institutions, corporations, government companies, water corporations, health funds, hospitals, clinics, banks, insurance companies, the Bezeq telecommunications company, cellphone, cable and satellite TV companies and internet service providers.

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