The approach aims to harmonise laws across the 15 member states of the European Union.
"There is a vast amount of network traffic, of which only a very small percentage is problematic, and can be disruptive," Erkki Liikanen, the commissioner responsible for Enterprise and the Information Society, said.
Although it is a small part of online activity, "cyber crime is still crime which needs to be dealt with," he added.
The proposal is technologically neutral, in that it will apply to all forms of online material, the commission 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.