Neelie Kroes, a European Commission official in charge of digital issues, said Friday the European community needs safeguards in cyberspace.
"The massive scale of online spying shows how technology can be used for ill," she said from Brussels. "This is totally unacceptable."
Kroes said allegations raised in the media by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden created a trust deficit when it comes to U.S. relations. She said she welcomed security reforms outlined by Washington, but stressed Europe needs to look at its own policies for protection.
European leaders looking to draft a cybersecurity strategy need to make sure the right kinds of safeguards are in place, she said.
"A strong [cybersecurity] directive is a European competitive advantage," she said. "A weak one, or none at all, would be a proof that democracy can't manage technology."
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Wednesday digital communications technology was opening doors to facilitate global debate and foster international democratic conversations. New technology, however, comes with a dark side, she said.