Late last week, I received a surprising email message from Apple. Due to the EU Omnibus Directive (2019/2161), which is focused on consumer protection legislation, I am now (as an author content producer located in the United States) subject to corresponding obligations in certain affected countries. If you sell ebooks, audiobooks or multimedia books (as I do), you are affected even if you are not European.
As a result, we now have to add a special type of contact web page to our website (which in my case, I never had, in order to avoid spambots) and supply a direct link to it. Otherwise, our content will no longer be available for sale in those European countries. Ahead I’ll cover the 6-step approach I used to comply with Apple Books and the EU Omnibus Directive (2019/2161) while still being ultraresistant to spambots.
Apple Books and the EU Omnibus Directive (2019/2161) requirements
Apple’s email message stated that I (we) now must supply a complete link (starting with the https:// protocol, i.e. https://yourwebsite.com/customer-service/ ) to a page which contains:
- A legal address (I already had one published on my main business website)
- A phone number (I already had a business phone number-virtual PBX on my business website)
- A naked email address (something I never had, for the reasons covered in the next section)
Why I never had any naked email address on my websites
The general consensus among many (but not all) web developers and many (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 naked email address makes it susceptible to spambots. (Per Wikipedia: “A spambot is a computer program designed to assist in the sending of spam.” Spambots continually scan the web for email addresses to add to a list.)
- If people access your contact page from a friend’s computer, hotel computer or library computer, sharing only a naked email address is not helpful, since clicking it either activates your friend’s email (not yours) as a return address to a message… or attempts to fire a not-yet configured default email client program.
Instead, I always had a contact form instead.
How to comply with Apple Books and the EU Omnibus Directive (2019/2161) while still being ultraresistant to spambots
The following instructions work, whether or not your website is created with WordPress and whether or not it is hosted with CombinedHosting.com.
- Create a new special contact page which is not listed in your normal menu navigation (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 alias email to your normal one, i.e. [email protected]
- Encode the email address created in step 4 above using a service like Email-encoder.com and paste the encoded version as raw HTML onto the spot 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 are happy with how the unlisted page looks and functions, supply the full link to Apple to have your content continue to be available for sale in the affected countries.
The above process will also serve if/when other content distribution platforms demand it in the future, i.e. Amazon, Google, Kobo and others. Note that the above suggestions and techniques are designed to to stop most spambots, not to stop human spammers. Human spammers can even get past a content form, although with a contact form, at least they can’t put the address in a database.
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