Photo: “W drodze na Wawel“, by Piotr Drabik, licensed under CC BY 2.0, Hue modified from the original

Rojszczak, Marcin. “Surveillance, Legal Restraints and Dismantling Democracy: Lessons from Poland.” Democracy and Security (2020): 1-29.


The principle of proportionality is fundamental to modern democracies. Proportionality and strict necessity are also essential requirements for the legality of public authorities’ surveillance activities. However, nowadays it is becoming more and more difficult to assess the proportionality of a given measure, especially since its surveillance effect may take some time to become apparent. That is why legislatures are increasingly introducing additional legal safeguards to reduce the risk of abuse of power. But can more mechanisms limiting surveillance powers effectively minimize the risk that these powers will be used for non-legal purposes? This key problem will be discussed based on the example of Poland – a EU Member State whose case will be used to illustrate the limited usefulness of the “checks and balances” model in a situation where a resolutely determined authority systematically aims to achieve its goals in violation of the rule of law.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.