Met chief in deep web haven warning
The internet and other communications platforms cannot become a safe haven for criminality, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has said.
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe was in New York to meet law enforcement experts at the headquarters of the city's police department.
Signalling a determination to deal with the threats posed by the so-called "dark web", or "deep" internet, he said: "We cannot allow parts of the internet - or any communications platform - to become dark and ungoverned space where images of child abuse are exchanged, murders are planned, and terrorist plots are progressed.
"In a democracy we cannot accept any space - virtual or not - to become anarchic where crime can be committed without fear.
"Yet this is in danger of happening.
"This is a considered view that is shared by many law enforcement and intelligence professionals both at home and indeed here in the US.
"Privacy is important, but in my view the security of communications methods and devices is growing beyond what any genuine domestic user could reasonably require.
"The levels of encryption and protection that we are seeing in the devices and methods used to communicate are frustrating the efforts of police and intelligence agencies to keep people safe.
"We need an informed, balanced discussion with communications providers to explore what they can do to help us protect the public from serious crime and terrorism."
Last month a former senior civil servant warned that cybercrime was speeding ahead of law enforcers' ability to control it as the dark web expanded.
Sir David Omand, a former director of eavesdropping centre GCHQ and former UK security and intelligence co-ordinator, told Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee that law enforcers were trying to police the worst excesses of the internet, as it was used by thieves, fraudsters, terrorists and paedophiles.
He said: ''They are failing, because cybercrime is racing ahead, and the dark web is expanding.
''There aren't enough experienced cyber detectives, the tools for cybercrime can be bought, law enforcement can't access the communications data."
The law enforcers had been forced to look to the intelligence community, which was primarily involved with safeguarding national security, to help protect society from threats of terrorism and criminality - leading to a misconception that this amounted to mass surveillance, which was not the case, Sir David said.