Beginning Friday, the “fax age” in Israel officially comes to an end. Government offices that until now had demanded that individuals send them important documents by fax, and not by email – even though few people today have fax machines – will no longer be able to make that demand. Instead, they will have to offer clients the ability to send documents electronically, such as by email, an application, or an upload.
While fax machines were popular in the 1990s and early 2000s, they have since been supplanted by email as the preferred method of instant communication of documents. It’s almost impossible to buy a fax machine in Israel today; for many, sending out a fax required finding a friend with a printer that had a fax function, or going to a store that had a fax machine and paying several shekels for the service.
The law applies to government offices, municipal offices, state-affiliated companies (such as water companies), hospitals, HMOs (Kupot Cholim), the IDF, courts, police, prisons, the Knesset and schools. A law banning the fax requirement says that the institutions to which the law applies must provide “simple and easy” electronic methods for transmission of documents. With that, the law does not apply to private businesses, such as banks, phone companies, insurance companies and so on. But the vast majority of these have long ago stopped using faxes.
The law was sponsored by Likud MKs Shiran Haskel and David Bitan. In a statement, Shiran said that “the time has come to upgrade to the current technological reality. We are in the year 2019, and everyone uses electronic communications. Faxes are a thing of the past.” In addition to making things easier for clients, the law will encourage efficiency in offices. “No longer can they give you an excuse that ‘we didn’t get your fax,’” she said. Bitan said that “the law’s purpose is to make government services more convenient and accessible to the public. In addition, it will reduce waiting time for the provision of those services, which had been held up until now because of a ‘missing’ fax.”