A decision adopted by the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee to revise the European Union’s e-privacy rules was backed by the plenary. It was approved by 318 votes to 280, with 20 abstentions.

Parliament will start the talks with member states on the new e-Privacy regulation as soon as member states have agreed on their own negotiation position.

“The European Parliament today made the right choice and stood firm against the industry lobby over control of individuals’ communications,” said Parliament’s lead MEP Marju Lauristin (S&D, ET). “It is a basic right of individuals to know how their information is used. Freedom from tracking is vital to democracy.”

Parliament’s mandate sets high standards of privacy, confidentiality and security in electronic communications across the EU.

Among the parliament’s priorities is a ban on “cookie walls”, which block access to a website if users do not agree to their data being used by the site. Snooping on personal devices via cookies or software updates, or tracking people without their clear approval through public hotspots or WI-FI in shopping centres, should also be prohibited, said MEPs.

MEP Marju Lauristin, who is the parliament’s negotiator for the e-privacy legislation, said the vote is “a victory for citizen’s rights over the lobbying efforts of big business”.

“The e-privacy regulation is designed to adapt the rules on the confidentiality of communication for the reality of the 21st Century,” added Lauristin, a member of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) Group. “It covers new forms of private communication, such as WhatsApp or Skype, which did not exist when these laws were first introduced. It gives citizens much greater control over how their confidential information can be used by private companies.”

S&D Group spokesperson for civil liberties, justice and home affairs, Birgit Sippel, said: “The e-Privacy regulation aims to put users back in control of their communication data and wants to ensure that they are able to decide how this information is being used.”