The Union government has filed an affidavit before the Delhi high court revealing that the new Information Technology Rules 2021 have a clear target of ensuring the cyber security of women and children. The affidavit was filed before a bench of chief justice DN Patel and justice Jyoti Singh after different high courts across the country stayed the execution of the new rules on the grounds that they are overreaching and may pose a threat to the fundamental rights of citizens.The Centre clarified in the affidavit that the new rules aim to remove unlawful content that breaches the physical privacy of citizens, especially women. That the rule protects the dignity of the person whose pictures on the computer resource negatively impact his/her dignity. The content removal within a 24 hours timeline does not result in over censorship and it has to be seen in the light of the sensitivity, which is of utmost priority. Rule 3(2)(b) has been issued for the benefit and protection of victims whose sensitive pictures have been leaked online. It is a beneficial rule. Removal of a partially nude picture from its computer resource, on the basis of a complaint received from the victim of such picture, can in no way be said to affect the right of freedom of speech and expression of a user, the affidavit states.The affidavit also confirms that the IT Rules 2021 have provisions to ensure the cooperation of messaging and other services with law enforcement agencies (LEA) to identify the perpetrators or the first originator of the unlawful content, especially when it relates to rape and child sexual abuse material (CSAM). The significant social media intermediaries shall endeavour to deploy technology-based measures to identify any act or simulation of rape and children engaged in any sexually explicit act, in accordance with the safeguards in the Rules, the Centre said in the affidavit.This affidavit was filed in response to a petition by Uday Bedi, a practising lawyer, who challenged Rules 3 and 4 of the IT Rules 2021, which were brought into force from February 25, 2021. Bedi had filed the petition as a user of social media platforms, concerned that the rules could be used to threaten freedom of speech, expression and privacy of citizens, as enshrined in the Constitution of India. The Centre has said that its unmoved in its commitment to freedom of speech, and the new rules are meant to provide security to the common user while providing a set of checks and balances for the removal of unlawful content on social media. The affidavit also states that the new IT Rules 2021 have also been created keeping in mind that the online intermediary ecosystem has expanded in the last decade, the growth of social media users has been exponential, the availability of unregulated content on devices has increased, and the influencing capacity of social media platforms has stretched manifold.