The European Commission has adopted measures to combat criminal activity against information systems, such as hacking, creating viruses and launching denial of service attacks, it said yesterday.
The approach aims to harmonise laws across the EU's 15 member states.
"There is a vast amount of network traffic, of which only a very small percentage is problematic and can be disruptive," said the Commissioner responsible for Enterprise and the Information Society, Erkki Liikanen.
Although it is a small part of online activity, "cybercrime is still crime which needs to be dealt with", he said.
The proposal is technologically neutral, in that it will apply to all forms of online material, the EC said in a statement.
The ultimate objective is to protect users and to promote improvement of security of information infrastructures, while balancing different societal interests, such as network security, law-enforcement powers and privacy protection, the EC said.