Executive chairman of Google Eric Schmidt refused requests for the search engine to stop indexing extremist websites at a Q&A session at the Hay Festival on Saturday, claiming that the "digital trail" enables police to track extremists.
The questions came after MPs called on Google at the weekend to prevent search engine searches leading users to terrorist-sympathising websites, the Guardian reports.
Schmidt said: "We cannot prima facie identify evil and take it down. We have taken the decision that information if it's legal, even if it's despicable, will be indexed.
"Extremists are not clever enough not to be found out. They leave a digital trail the police can follow."
Schmidt went on to dismiss notions of government-like behaviour from Google itself as the tech giant's power grows: "We're not becoming a state. We don't want to be because states have a lot of complicated problems.
"On the whole, it is a fight between the internet community and government who do what they want to do. We can't force governments to do what we want."
Earlier this year, Google reported a record number of requests from global governments to remove political content from its services, describing the increase as "troubling".