[CODATA-international] Ethical Query on vendor lobbying in GIS/EO

Suchith Anand Suchith.Anand at nottingham.ac.uk
Fri Sep 23 14:22:05 EDT 2022

Dear colleagues,

GIS Vendor Lobbying is a global issue affecting many organisations. I gave example of my small experience in Group on Earth Observations (GEO) [1] where I raised my ethical concerns on vendor lobbying/influencing and vendor sponsorship in GIS/EO events , projects etc and the need for ethical business practices. GIS Vendor sponsorship/vendor lobbying/influence is happening in many organisations including in GIS Scientific journals, GIS education, GIS research, GIS projects, publications, scientific conferences etc.

Do GIS companies have a history of ethical business practices?

For example, I came across this information from Department of Justice in the USA.


For GIS vendors in the UK , Europe and other countries are there any regulations for GIS government contracts to ensure there is no corruption? What rules and procedures are in place to ensure protection of taxpayers' money in GIS contracts?

Best wishes



From: Suchith Anand
Sent: 21 September 2022 15:38
To: CODATA International <codata-international at lists.codata.org>
Subject: Ethical Query on vendor lobbying in GIS/EO

Dear colleagues

I have  ethical query on vendor lobbying/influencing and vendor sponsorship in GIS/EO education, research,  projects, publications, scientific journals, scientific conferences, training and will appreciate advice.

I served as a Program Board member for the Group on Earth Observations (2018-2020). I currently serve as an observer to the GEO Program Board representing CODATA and International Science Council.

I served on GEO Data Ethics Sub group (now closed by  GeoSec  citing “resource constraints”) where I have been raising the issue of vendor sponsorship for Group on Earth Observations (GEO) conferences, projects etc and the need to have clear guidelines.

I have raised ethical concerns many times in GEO Program Board and different GEO committees (over 4 years now) on the issue of  vendor sponsorship in GEO, rise of EO data feudalism using GEO frameworks , need for guidelines for GeoSec on vendor lobbying , code of conduct for GeoSec staff, GEO Associate members,  Racial injustices etc but my ethical concerns were ignored by GeoSec. The GEO Data Ethics Sub Group  has now been closed in July 2022 by  GeoSec citing “resource constraints”.

Why were the ethical concerns I raised over the years  ignored by the GEO Secretariat ?

Few days back , I saw this article on vendor lobbying written by a whistleblower who worked many years at senior level for the GIS vendor who is a GEO Associate at https://esriunearthed.substack.com/p/esri-and-jerry-lewis

So I have ethical concerns on lobbying by GEO Associates after reading this article on vendor lobbying and request advice from colleagues with Policy expertise. Is there a code of conduct for GEO Associates?

Are there any guidelines for scientific organisations, universities,  scientific journals to prevent vendor lobbying or influencing in publications,  projects, education initiatives, GIS curriculum, events etc ?

There are so many recent examples of ethical issues by  GEO Associate members that GEOSec for some reason wants to ignore.

I have raised ethical concerns on the issue of any GEO Associates (Vendor X or Y , it doesn’t matter)  using “science” as part of marketing strategy for selling/promoting their products/services/brand.  Is using “science” as part of marketing for selling/promoting products/services/brand by GIS vendors misinformation ?


Does lobbying/influencing by vendors lead to corruption? If so, is it ethical?

Why did GEO Sec ignore (not even a public statement in the GEO website)  when GEO Associate was found by U.S. Department of Labor for pay discrimination against female employees?


There is huge pressure to hide all these ethical issues by some organisations.

Ethical frameworks in governance at all levels (from global to national to local) are important to protect democracy, protect human rights and prevent corruption.

Best wishes


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