At the end of last week, I received a surprising email from Apple. Due to the European Omnibus Directive (2019/2161), which focuses on consumer protection legislation, I am now (as an author producing content located in the United States) subject to corresponding obligations in certain countries concerned. If you sell ebooks, audiobooks or multimedia books (like me), you are concerned even if you are not European.
As a result, we now need to add a special type of contact web page to our website (which in my case I never had, to avoid spambots) and provide a direct link to it . Otherwise, our content will no longer be available for sale in these European countries. Ahead, I’ll cover the 6-step approach I used to comply with Apple Books and the European Omnibus Directive (2019/2161) while being ultra spambot-resistant.
Apple Books and the requirements of the European Omnibus Directive (2019/2161)
Apple’s email indicated that I (we) now had to provide a full link (beginning with the https:// protocol, that is https://yourwebsite.com/customer-service/ ) to a page that contains:
- A legal address (I already had one published on my company’s main site)
- A phone number (I already had one business phone number-virtual PBX on my company website)
- A bare email address (something I’ve never had, for reasons discussed in the next section)
Why I’ve Never Had a Naked Email Address on My Websites
The general consensus among many (but not all) web developers and (but not all) business owners is that we should avoid sharing a naked email address on a website, for at least two reasons:
- Allowing a bare email address makes it vulnerable to spambots. (By Wikipedia: “A spambot is a computer program designed to help send spam.” Spammers continually crawl the web looking for email addresses to add to a list.)
- If people are accessing your contact page from a friend’s computer, hotel computer, or library computer, sharing just a bare email address isn’t helpful. , because clicking it enables your friend’s email (not yours) as a return address to a message… or attempts to launch a default email client program not yet configured.
Instead, I always had a contact form instead.
How to comply with Apple Books and the European Omnibus Directive (2019/2161) while being ultra-resistant to spambots
The following instructions will work whether or not your website is built with WordPress and whether or not it’s hosted with CombinedHosting.com.
- Create a special new contact page that is not in your normal navigation menu (i.e. https://yourwebsite.com/customer-service/ ).
- Configure this particular page to be ignored (not indexed) by search engines using standard web development techniques.
- Add your legal address and phone number.
- Create an email alias to your normal email i.e. [email protected]
- Encode the email address created in step 4 above using a service such as Email-encoder.com and paste the plain HTML encoded version where you want the email to appear on the page. The encoded version will look extremely long, but the end result will be the normal length of an email address.
- When you’re happy with how the unlisted page looks and works, provide the full link to Apple so that your content continues to be available for sale in those countries.
The above process will also serve if/when other content delivery platforms require it in the future i.e. Amazon, Google, Kobo and others. Note that the suggestions and techniques above are designed to stop most spambots, not to stop human spammers. Human spammers can even bypass a content form, although with a contact form at least they can’t put the address into a database.
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