USIU-Africa’s Vice Chancellor Prof Paul Zeleza says universities should empower people.

 USIU-Africa’s Vice Chancellor Prof Paul Zeleza has called on universities to spur information age development through empowering citizens. Addressing an annual workshop themed ICT and the Law: Ethics, Rights & Limitations last week, organized by the University’s Division of Legal Services, the VC outlined the important role legal services plays in institutions of higher learning.

The two-day workshop, which attracted participants from across the country, covered a number of legal issues. They included constitutional rights and limitations in the cyber space; an employer’s role in training employees on online conduct; activism on the cyber space (social media); and intellectual property rights in the cyber space. Other areas covered included Internet jurisprudence and sexual harassment – the legality of reporting cases online; an employer’s perspective on employees’ use of social media; data protection; and using digital marketing to combat negative public perception.

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The facilitators of the workshop included Mrs. Sharon Chahale-Wata, the Assistant Director Legal & Technical Services at Kenya Copyright Board, who took participants through the various intellectual property rights that accrue in the cyberspace, and the distinction between industrial property and copyright.

Mrs Wata emphasized that copyright protects expression of ideas and not ideas themselves and that copyright owners, particularly on the internet, must take a proactive role in protecting their rights. Fred Waithaka, the Head of Legal & Secretarial Services at Safaricom Limited, highlighted the benefits and risks of internet and social media use while underscoring the importance of employees aligning their online conduct with the company’s culture.

Steve Ogolla, the Managing Partner at Steve Ogolla Advocates, emphasized to participants the importance of exercising restraint and applying common sense in balancing between the right to freedom of expression and other people’s rights to bodily integrity, dignity, and security.

Safaricom’s Senior Manager for PR & Communications Chris Karanja cited the Safaricom’s experience in combating negative public perception and outlined five strategies that are useful in this regard, including driving brand love and owning & shaping brand narrative.

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