Tue. Jul 14th, 2020


The travel folks

ESTA Application and Data Privacy – What You need to Know

2 min read

The ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) helps nationals of a VWP ratified nation to enter the US borders without the need for getting a separate visa. Many of us would be skeptical about filling in the details on the ESTA application process, fearing a violation of our data privacy. However, the good news is that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has a well-defined mechanism of checks and balances to ensure total data privacy of the ESTA application data being filled in by the applicant.

Here are some questions about data privacy when going for ESTA online application

1 – Who will have access to the data?

As with any traveler screening program, the ESTA data too goes through a strict set of provisions to protect privacy and data integrity. The website is maintained by the US government.  Nobody has the authority to access the data except with those professionals who need to know (for e.g. law enforcement authorities). Additionally, the information is protected under the provisions of US laws and regulations and invite strict legal action in case of attempted breaches.

2 – How long is the ESTA data stored?

The ESTA data is stored for the duration of the validity of the same (i.e. two years) or till the traveler’s passport expires (whichever is earlier). In addition to this period, the DHS will keep the data for another year. Once this duration is over, it will archive the data for 12 years so that it can be retrieved by a valid authority like law enforcement.

3 – How is the application data used?

There are two areas where the ESTA application data is used. One is of course, at the time of processing an application for a VWP country’s citizen. Other than that, when the person has actually landed on US shores, he/ she will be scrutinized against this data as a part of the screening process. So, if the data points to any terrorist or law violation accused, then the data will be handed over to the appropriate law enforcement agency to take further action. This step is in line with the country’s endeavor to ensure a healthy influx of people from abroad for leisure or business purposes, and at the same time, protect its national security.

To sign off

ESTA authorization requires the applicant to fill in bare minimum details. They also have a great system in place that prevents unwanted hacks of the data, thus keeping the data privacy completely safe. So, go ahead and fill up the ESTA online application without any hesitation about the data being compromised.  

If you are looking for travelling to the United States and looking to apply ESTA application online, please Visit our ESTA Guide to obtaining your travel permit.

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