10 votes The Fax Is Not Yet Obsolete Posted November 19, 2018 by spit-evil-olive-tips Tags: history, fax machines, obsolescence https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/11/why-people-still-use-fax-machines/576070/ Link information This data is scraped automatically and may be incorrect. Authors Published Nov 18 2018 Word count 493 words 4 comments Collapse replies Expand all Comments sorted by most votes newest first order posted relevance OK  Algernon_Asimov November 20, 2018 Link This isn't just a U.S.-specific problem. A lot of medical correspondence here in Australia goes via fax machine, too - and we don't have that law to enforce it. It's just a relic. Emails are... According to Vox, one industry analyst estimates that 75 percent all of all medical communications still happen by fax. [...] Part of this has to do with an interpretation of a clause in hipaa, a U.S. health-privacy law, which requires health providers to take reasonable steps to safeguard patient information. This isn't just a U.S.-specific problem. A lot of medical correspondence here in Australia goes via fax machine, too - and we don't have that law to enforce it. It's just a relic. Fax also allows for interoperability: People with different information-technology systems and software applications can communicate easily, via one uniform technology. Emails are extremely interoperable. If one must send an image of a written document, it could be scanned and emailed. one reason hospitals cited for their continued dependency was security: Many believed that hacking computer systems were easier to hack than fax machines—and that computer hacks were more damaging. They're not alone. One solution to faxing medical information between GPs' offices is to have everyone's medical information stored in a central database called My Health Record, which will become the de facto system for everyone from next February (after the government extended the opt-out period from last week). And, because noone trusts the government to keep their data safe, over a million Aussies have already opted out of having a My Health Record. 3 votes  DanBC November 20, 2018 Link Parent Everyone misses the real reason for continued fax use (which is only partly about security): all the failure modes are well known and it's obvious when a fax fails to send. If there's any problem... Everyone misses the real reason for continued fax use (which is only partly about security): all the failure modes are well known and it's obvious when a fax fails to send. If there's any problem with the target machine the failure is obvious to the sender. We can't say that about email which can silently fail for any number of reasons. This (knowing when it fails) is crucial when you're sending a safety critical referral such as a GP referring a suicidal patient to a crisis team. But this also means that continued use of fax is terrible, because a lot of them are sent over email to fax gateways, so we get all the problems of fax combined with all the problems of email. 3 votes Greg November 20, 2018 Link Parent It might be easier to confirm that the machine received the message, but I'd think that a direct reply is still the only way to be sure that an actual person (especially the correct person)... It might be easier to confirm that the machine received the message, but I'd think that a direct reply is still the only way to be sure that an actual person (especially the correct person) received it. It's an interesting one - I used to be firmly of the opinion that "fax machines antiquated and pointless", and the technologist in me still agrees: sending unencrypted data over public phone lines in order to deliver a low-resolution hard copy to a machine that's almost certainly in a semi-public space seems insane compared to properly encrypted email sent directly to a specific person's device. But then the pragmatist in me says that tapping a phone line requires physical access, as does stealing paper - and people tend to have at least something of an understanding of physical security (although clipboard and hi-vis jacket still work better than they should). The words "properly encrypted" are key to securing the email solution, and often users simply can't be trusted to follow procedure there. And if there is any breach, downloading everything past-and-future from a server is often as easy as downloading a single file. 1 vote BlackLedger November 20, 2018 Link Without it, how could I learn about Noah's Wet Basement solution? Without it, how could I learn about Noah's Wet Basement solution?