Ro Khanna and Rep. Mike Honda

CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | The top contenders hoping to represent Silicon Valley in Congress both say they support Apple’s opposition to a court order directing them to help unlock the iPhones of the San Bernardino shooters.

Democratic Rep. Mike Honda and his challenger, fellow Democrat Ro Khanna, said the F.B.I. is wrong in forceing Apple to create a backdoor into its popular iPhone because doing so could put others privacy at risk. Apple is headquartered in Cupertino, which is represented in the 17th Congressional District.

Critics of Apple’s opposition to complying with the federal order to unlock its smartphones say the company is impeding the investigation of the two San Bernardino shooters labeled as terrorists. In addition, some of the same voices say Apple is making the country less safe from another attack.

“It is disturbing that the United States government is demanding Apple take an unprecedented step to violate the privacy and security of its customers,” said Honda. “Without any question, this violates the privacy of iPhone users, and exposes their personal information to dangerous hackers and criminals.

While opposing the federal court decision, Honda framed the matter in stark historical tones, including the blacklisting during the Red Scare of the 1950s and his own internment as a young child during World War II. “These are black marks in our history and we cannot let the voices of fear win again,” said Honda. “No matter how afraid we may become of our enemy–and I have no sympathy for terrorists who wish to harm Americans–we must adhere to the principles this country was founded on.”

Khanna, who has staked both of his candidacies for the congressional district on his strong ties to Silicon Valley’s biggest and most influential tech companies, called the court’s ruling “government overreach.”

“If Apple is compelled to do this, then they may put all their customers at risk because any unlocking software could get hacked or fall into the wrong hands,” said Khanna. “Apple’s customers could be victims of cybercrime, identity theft, or stalking. The FBI should not be requiring tech companies to build back doors to encryption technology that compromises our privacy and puts users at risk.”