Sent: Tuesday, August 08, 2017 8:35 AM


Subject:RE: Request for an Advisory Opinion

Attachments: f13094.wpd


I have received your inquiry concerning the ability to request records via the use of a fax machine.

As indicated in the attached opinion (a second copy will also be sent separately) there is nothing in the Freedom of Information Law that addresses the issue. In our view, if a request does not involve a voluminous amount of material or the transmission of the communication via fax does not interfere with an agency’s functions, it would be unreasonable for an agency to prohibit the use of a fax machine to submit requests for records. On the other hand, if, for example, a law enforcement agency uses a fax machine for dedicated purposes, and its use by the public would interfere with the agency’s functions, prohibiting its use would, in my opinion, be reasonable.

I note that the article in the NY Times involves the reversal of a practice of the New York City Police Department resulting in its agreement to accept requests for records via email. The difference in that instance is based on ยง89(3)(b) of the Freedom of Information Law, which specifies that agencies are required to accept requests made via email when they have the ability to do so. Further, an email transmission does not preclude other email transmissions from being received or sent.

I hope that I have been of assistance.

Bob Freeman