Thank you for asking this question. It's been interesting hearing other institution's take on this Extension. I did an initial assessment a little while back for Ohio State, and after downloading the Firefox version, took it apart to do a quick security audit (we have to go through this for every software product; both an audit for security and accessible) and the biggest challenge with the plugin is the active data collection/processing across remote servers and the ease in which you can probe the APIs for data collected. I realize that it would complicate the extension, but to make this work within my environment, more data processing needs to moved locally so less user data is moving back and forth. As an organization, there has been a real push to limit the recommended use of software or tools that essentially vacuum up all user data. It's one thing for a user to download a plugin themselves, but would be difficult within our security environment to make it part of the default student/faculty software profile.
But it's a really interesting product and one that I go back and look at regularly to weight the pros and cons of potentially pursuing an exception to our security process.
From: Code for Libraries <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of Emily Morton-Owens
Sent: Wednesday, August 22, 2018 9:45 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] Lean Library Security Concerns
At Penn we are starting a trial period for Lean Library which has come about only after extensive testing and discussion about whether the risks of the product are balanced by the benefits. I won't recap the back and forth but we ultimately decided that our security/privacy concerns could apply to browser extensions/add-ons in general and weren't specific to Lean Library, that Lean Library's business model doesn't rely on exploiting the sensitive data, and that Lean Library would ameliorate what we see as a particular pain point for users. Therefore we have decided to go ahead with the pilot but will present it with a disclaimer about what it means to install extensions in general.
AUL Digital Library Development & Systems Penn Libraries
On Tue, Aug 21, 2018 at 6:05 PM Tammy Wolf <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> I just wondered if anyone else on this list reviewed Lean Library<mailto:
> https://www.leanlibrary.com/> and had any security and/or privacy
> Here is what our Director of Security had to say,
> "I can confirm that browsing activity is sent to lean library.
> Attached is an example screenshot showing the POST when visiting a URL on reddit.com.
> And if you visit https://app.leanlibrary.com/?r=api/api/institutes
> it's trivial to see info about all subscribers of lean library.
> Also, there are Repeated Pings to capture user IP Address. This was
> also verified during the session capture. This occurs via
> Our Security Director goes on to say the following:
> "Of course this is also a question of consent. Any users of the plugin
> https://www.leanlibrary.com/privacy-policy/item181 - which would be in
> conflict with deploying this automatically to lab computers. I have
> What information does Lean Library and The Extension NOT obtain?
> Your security and privacy is our biggest priority. We are only
> interested in information or data that can help us deliver the best
> experience possible in saving you time while and optimizing your academic research.
> Therefore, The Extension does not store any information for other
> browsing activity such as activity on non-database webpage urls.
> Maybe they aren't technically "storing" the fact that I visited a URL
> on reddit.com, but that visit still went to their server and was
> captured / analyzed *somehow*. It would be more accurate for them to
> say that they analyze all sites you visit to determine whether they
> are academic in nature, or something. But that would be a red flag."
> Tammy Allgood Wolf
> Director of Discovery Services
> ASU Library
> Arizona State University