Neelie Kroes, a European Commission official in charge of digital issues, said Wednesday data protection efforts in the European Union aren't about limiting access to digital technology or blocking well-intentioned innovators.
"It is about safeguarding fundamental rights, building trust, and ensuring a system built on fairness, transparency and user control," she said.
Kroes said EU legislators are tasked with finding the right balance between privacy and transparency in the digital age.
"We remain dependent on the digital developments of others: and just as vulnerable to them," she said.
The EU has expressed frustration over the details of a U.S. cyberespionage program revealed to the press by Edward Snowden, a former contractor with the National Security Agency.
EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said last month trust in the United States suffered as a result of the Snowden revelations.
Kroes, however, suggesting digital spying was part of an evolving national security landscape
"Let's be honest: spying has been going on for some time; perhaps it's the world's second oldest profession," she said. "It uses whatever tools lie to hand; today it uses digital ones."