The Knesset building.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Forcing government services to catch up with technology that has existed for decades, the Knesset on Wednesday approved in a preliminary reading a bill that would require all public offices to allow communication via email.
The legislation proposed by Likud MK Sharren Haskel would apply all government ministries, educational institutions, corporations founded under law, such as the Israel Broadcasting Corporation or the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, state companies such as the Israel Electric Corporation and water companies, health funds, hospitals, clinics, banks, insurance companies, Bezek telecom, cellphone companies, cable and satellite TV companies, and Internet service providers. They would be required to allow the public to contact them via email and reply in an email, including in cases where documents need to be sent.
The companies will no longer be able to require the public to use fax machines.
“It can’t be that in 2017 citizens are forced to use a technology that is inaccessible and whose time has passed,” Haskel said. “The time has come for government services and hospitals to accept emails. We sent the fax machine to retirement.”
Haskel said that it was difficult passing the law, and she had to convince the individual companies to agree to it.
MK Stav Shaffir (Zionist Union) proposed an identical bill three years ago, which was turned into a cabinet decision.
“I would expect the government to have moved to email a decade ago and provide electronic services to the public,” Shaffir said. “A year ago, we held a follow-up meeting to check if [government offices] moved to email. I expect the government to enforce the decisions it is committed to. It would have been better to enforce the cabinet decision and not have to pass another law.”
The bill passed a preliminary vote with 56 in favor and none opposed, and will go to the Knesset Economics Committee to be prepared for a first reading.