The UK's top counter-terrorism has said that investigations are being “undermined” as social media companies are not fully co-operating with London Metropolitan Police's requests for communications data.
Mark Rowley, national lead for counter terrorism policing and head of specialist operations described the sector as “immature”, saying that social media companies were effectively providing terrorists with a "safe operating environment", and the way some behaved “would not be tolerated in other sectors”.
Difficulties in obtaining communications data and encrypted information meant all counter-terrorism operations were now "more patchy in their intelligence than we have ever seen before".
He said: "Some refuse to assist. For some it is also a part of their strategy - they design their products in full recognition that they will be unable to help us because of the way they have designed them.”
"And some simply undermine us by adopting a policy that if they supply data to us they will tell the subject that they have done that."
Rowley said six terror plots have been disrupted in recent years, and the UK's terror threat level is currently set at "severe" - which means an attack is "highly likely".
He called for "up-to-date legislation" that would allow police to "operate in the modern digital age", improved international cooperation and the "constructive, practical help" of social media companies.
Rowley's talk follows comments by MI5 chief Andrew Parker, who said social media companies had an ethical responsibility to alert the authorities regarding information about terrorism and other criminal activity.