The European Parliament's Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights recommended Spain's Joaquin Bayo Delgado for the post during a secret ballot last month.
Civil liberties group Privacy International described Delgado's nomination as "deplorable" and said it could damage the data protection environment for businesses and individuals.
The European data protection chief will take responsibility for ensuring compliance of the sensitive Schengen cross-border databases, customs databases and the compliance of bodies such as the EC and European Parliament.
"You need someone at European level who is in tune with business and the rights of citizens and can take stock of what has happened in Europe over the past 15 years and act in a consistent manner," said Simon Davis, director of Privacy International.
However, Richard Thomas, the UK's information commissioner, said there was still a long way to go before Delgardo was ratified for the post. "I do not think it is essential to have experience, but one would normally expect someone to have experience in this position," he said. "It is an important post but having a specific track record is not essential."