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How secure is my data?

The ESTA website operates under the rules and regulations that are outlined in the United States Privacy Act to insure the privacy of your information. In fact, the U.S. Code § 552a - ‘Records maintained on individuals’ states the following regarding the conditions of disclosure:
“No agency shall disclose any record which is contained in a system of records by any means of communication to any person, or to another agency, except pursuant to a written request by, or with the prior written consent of, the individual to whom the record pertains”
There are a couple of exceptions to the rule though, these are listed below:
  • Officers and Employees of the agency that need the information to perform their duties
  • For routine use in a government agency
  • The Bureau of Census can request some of this information when they are carrying out a census or a survey, like for example the amount of people travelling to the U.S. or something to that account.
  • To someone who is gathering data for statistical purposes only. The information then shared would not be individually identifiable.
  • The data can be shared for National Archives or records Administration - in fact, if your ESTA acts as a I-94W then your data can be archived for 75 years.
  • Information on the ESTA application can be shared with another agency or governmental jurisdiction for law enforcement purposes.
  • Your personal information can be shared with the congress for any congressional investigations.
Since the website is operated by the United States Government, it uses technology to make sure that only people who are authorised can view your personal details and to safeguard your privacy.
Though, an important thing to note is that law enforcement can look at your ESTA data if they need it for an investigation. For more information on how long information is retained by the U.S. government click here.