All that is wrong with the world…

March 2, 2011

Why is fax still so prevalent?

Filed under: Issues...the world...etc.. — Tags: , , , — allthatiswrong @ 2:50 pm

I don’t understand why fax is still so prevalent in an age where the majority of large organizations has several PCs along with broadband internet. Back in the days before email Fax made a lot of sense, but these days an email costs less, doesn’t require a dedicated phone line and can be authenticated in a way that fax is simply unable to be. There can certainly be uses for fax….if you need a document in a hurry it could be quicker to fax it than have to download it and find a printer…but most of the time an email is superior in every single way. Which is why I don’t understand why so many government and other organizations only accept fax and flat out refuse to accept email.

Often such policies seem to be based on a belief that fax is harder to forge because it is tangible, when nothing could be further from the truth. Faxes tend to be low quality even at high quality settings and generally can’t be compared to the original document at the receiving end. Additionally anything that can be manipulated on a computer can be printed and sent as a fax. Sending documents via email on the other hand allows for the possibility of cryptographic signing and verification which is far, far more reliable than any authentication method related to faxes.

Why then will so many organizations refuse to accept an email and require it be sent as a fax? When I was in Toronto last December I was trying to send a fax halfway around the world and it was just impossible. I spent $10 trying 3 different numbers and it simply wouldn’t work, as there must have been a problem with one of the intermediate connections. Of course the government agency I was trying to send to absolutely refused to accept the possibility that I could email them. The document was electronic in the first place so for no reason except to adhere to an archaic policy I had to print out a document and then try to fax it, when I could have sent it and signed it with my public key.

Generally various organizations have been OK at embracing new technology even if takes a while, yet in 2011 fax is still preferred over email and often mandated as the only way to send documents. When will this craziness and ignorance end?

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