The head of Snapchat has told European regulators that their efforts to protect user data were entrenching the positions of internet giants such as Google and Facebook.

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel's comments in London came three months after the UK parliament published a scathing report accusing Facebook of acting like "digital gangsters" who brazenly violate privacy rules.

The European Union took the lead last year by implementing a strict General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) policy making platforms' access to customer data more transparent and easier for users to control.

Spiegel called the European approach well-meaning but potentially self-defeating.

"I think that some of the regulation like GDPR, for example, may end up entrenching very large players," he told a business conference organised by The Wall Street Journal.

"If you're a small publisher today and you want to run ads on your website, it's very very hard to do that because you are not at scale, you don't have a giant ads platform, so you might want to plug into Google, for example, or Facebook," he said.

"And if you do that, you're basically going to have to tell your customers that you are selling your data to Google or Facebook."

Snapchat is a picture and video sharing tool especially popular among teens.

Spiegel said the mobile phone app is regularly used by 75% of all 13- to 34-year-olds in the United States.

It now has 190 million daily users - about 60 million more than Twitter - but is still operating at a loss.

The Financial Times estimated that the company will have to raise new capital in three years if it continued burning through cash at current rates.

Snap's inability to make a profit reflects other platforms' struggles to generate ad revenue.

The industry is going through a thorough re-think that tries to balance growth with a rising backlash against how personal details are bought and sold for targeted ads.