European politicians voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday in favor of new laws safeguarding citizens’ data.
The new Data Protection Regulation was approved with 621 votes for, 10 against and 22 abstentions.
“The message the European Parliament is sending is unequivocal: This reform is a necessity, and now it is irreversible,” said Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, who first proposed the law.
“Strong data protection rules must be Europe’s trade mark. Following the U.S. data spying scandals, data protection is more than ever a competitive advantage,” she said in a statement.
There had been concern that any delay in the vote would see the whole process put into the hands of a new parliament following elections in May. The current parliament will now speak to ministers from the EU’s member states and agree on a timetable to implement the law.
A more negative cast on the vote was taken by DigitalEurope, an organization representing the technology industry. In a statement released Wednesday, it called the regulation “ill-suited to the digital economy” and said it needed more work. “The text adopted at today’s plenary session of the European Parliament is over-prescriptive. It will hamper Europe’s ability to take advantage of new ways of using data. This will put Europe at a disadvantage to other parts of the world that are embracing the new technologies,” the statement said.