Baroness Onora O'Neill, Crossbench member of the House of Lords and Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge, gives a talk for the Redirecting Fleet Street: Media Regulation and the Role of Law conference.
Classical arguments about speech rights divide between those that focus on speech content and those that focus on speech acts. By and large certain arguments against regulation of speech content have been judged convincing, but arguments about regulation of speech acts remain deeply contested.
This is evident from current debates not only about media regulation, but from wider debates about defamation, data protection, privacy, confidentiality and transparency - all made more complex by new technologies and new media. It may be helpful to approach questions about the regulation of speech acts by thinking not only about victims - when there are victims - but about beneficiaries and the power relations that different forms of communication and quasi communication exploit and reinforce.