The proposed legislation on the protection of personal data, which will be voted on for the final time by the European Council in the coming weeks, originally proposed that businesses provide "advance information" before cookies - tools designed to ease a user's movement between Web sites and track their usage habits - are served.
However, following intensive pressure from industry groups, which said the legislation would cost Web site owners millions and threaten EU e-commerce targets, the proposal was softened. It now states that users must have access to "clear information about the purposes of cookies", allowing them to opt out of receiving them.
Today's vote, the conclusion of the second reading, was to reject or amend the common position adopted by the European Parliament. The third reading, during which the text is agreed with the European Council, is the final stage of the legislative process.
Members of the European Parliament are today expected to vote in favour of proposals that will require ISPs and telecos to store e-mail and phone data for access by law enforcement agencies. The move is likely to have significant technical and cost implications for communications companies.
A compromise on EU laws regulating commercial spam is also expected.