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February 19, 2016

Trump calls for boycott of Apple products as federal dispute heats up

Republican frontrunner lashes out at tech giant on eve of South Carolina primary

As the FBI and Apple continue to wage a public relations war over a court order compelling the tech company to create a "backdoor" to the work iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has called for a boycott of the company's products until they comply with the FBI's demand.

Speaking at a rally in Charleston ahead of South Carolina's GOP primary this Saturday, Trump railed against Apple and implored his supporters to steer clear of the company while it resists the FBI's call to aid in their ongoing investigation of the deadly December terrorist attack that left 14 people dead, according to Business Insider.

"What I think you ought to do is boycott Apple until such time as they give that security number," Trump said. "How do you like that? I just thought of it. Boycott Apple!"

The GOP frontrunner appears to have grossly oversimplified the nature of the dispute, which revolves around a specialized iOS software that would override built-in security features and provide the FBI access to encrypted data. Specifically, the FBI wants Apple to create a patch that would bypass the iPhone's self-destruct response after a certain number unsuccessful passcode attempts, thus enabling them to test millions of combinations automatically.

RELATED ARTICLE: Former Pa. Gov. Ridge: Apple should comply with order to assist FBI

"Boycott Apple," Trump again told his supporters at a separate rally Friday night. "We want the secrets. They don't want to open up the phones. Give me a break! Why wouldn't they want to do it? Why wouldn't they want to do it? They don't want to open up the phone."

In an open letter published Tuesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote that the "backdoor" would apply not only to the iPhone in question, but potentially millions owned by customers worldwide. He added it would set a "dangerous precedent" if the FBI were to prevail in the disagreement.

The U.S. Department of Justice doubled down against Apple on Friday, filing a new motion that claims the company is "repudiating" a judge's order instead of following. Apple responded by claiming that the Apple ID password connected to the device in question was actually changed less than 24 hours after the government took possession of it, according to BuzzFeed News. Had that not occurred, Apple executives claim, the FBI might have been able to obtain a backup of the information it sought. The FBI claims the passcode change was made by an employee of the San Bernardino Health Department, which was the owner of the iPhone.

"The phone is owned by the government," Trump said Friday night. "What are they doing? Open up the phones. We have to be smart...Let Apple open up the phones so we find out where these threats are coming from."

For good measure, Trump took his boycott message to Twitter.

Heading into Saturday's primary, Trump led polls of Republican voters in South Carolina at 28 percent, followed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 23 percent and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at 15 percent.