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Intelligence Control and Oversight in Poland since 1989

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Abstract

The article presents Polish intelligence services from institutional perspective. The development of oversight and control system, which started in 1989, is still an ongoing process. Based on almost 30 years of experience it can be said that in Poland intelligence services are not about special tasks or privileges. They are rather a group of institutions which are subject to specific institutional oversight and control and are called special services. This paper focuses on institutional mechanisms of oversight and control and shows its most important elements: intelligence services, oversight institutions and institutions of control.

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The article aims to present the most important issues related to oversight over surveillance powers in Poland and Slovakia. The word „surveillance powers” used in the study refers particularly to covert techniques and practices of gathering personal data which occurs without the monitored subjects’ knowledge or approval. Such surveillance powers are typically carried out by police services and intelligence agencies, and are more politically sensitive, as well as closely related to core issues of power and security. Oversight over these services and their surveillance powers is the standard in democratic states. Before 1989-1990, there was a similar model of security services in both analyzed countries. During Communism, there was no civil and democratic oversight over police services and intelligence agencies. Under the communist system control over security services was exercised by an inner circle representing the highest levels of the Communist party. Finally, since the early 1990s Poland and Slovakia had to build new systems of control and oversight over surveillance powers. Nowadays, both countries are members of the European Union and the Council of Europe. The basic issue of the paper is to describe how the systems of control and oversight look in Poland and Slovakia in the post-Snowden era.
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