Who can obtain your personal data on the ESTA module that DHS (Department of Homeland Security) possesses?
The data can be shared with other sections of DHS in the case of need, in compliance with the law.
In addition, the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) may share data with the Department of State, embassies, and consulates. Here it is indeed possible to address to whom the ESTA application was refused. The consular officials, thanks to the sharing of data between the various departments, can examine the status of the applicants and issue a visa.
If it were considered appropriate, the Department of Homeland Security (protection of borders) may share your personal information with government agencies at the federal, state, local, foreign and with governmental plurilateral organizations. This occurs in case if the data is used for the pursuit of infringements or for surveys or applications of civil or criminal law, or for fighting terrorism and activities of intelligence for international or national security.
The port or airline companies will not receive personal data, but only the confirmation of your participation in the Visa Waiver Program through the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS).
The Department of Homeland Security will carry out any other information sharing following the rules inscribed in the publication in the Federal Register dated 10 June 2008 of the Privacy Act System of Records Notice. The law is available on- line on the website of the DHS.
A few years ago on the French territory, a brutal crime happened. A man, during a robbery, brutally killed 2 women and a minor. The French scientific police were able to extrapolate the fingerprint of the fugitive from the place of the murder. After days of useless researching in the databases accessible to the French authorities, they decided to ask and match the fingerprints in their possession with those stored in the American Immigration databases.
The French lawbreaker entered once in the USA with an Esta thanks to the Visa Waiver Program. And as it is known, at the entrance in the United States each traveler is archived with a mugshot signage and fingerprints.
Thanks to such screening, the French Authorities with the collaboration of the American ones managed to identify and capture the French criminal.
This is a typical example how the information on travelers obtained from the American Immigration authorities is shared among the departments within the country, or among “friendly” countries.