Presidential hopeful Donald Trump has called on America to boycott Apple until the company helps the FBI break into the phone of a dead terrorist. Mr. Trump has been vocal in his belief that Apple should create a backdoor into iOS that the FBI could then use access an iPhone found on the terrorists behind an attack San Bernardino, CA, in December of 2015.
Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Nevada
Apple was ordered by a U.S. magistrate judge to create a version of iOS that could be sideloaded onto the iPhone in question. This special version would lack the security controls that wipe an iPhone after ten attempts to unlock it, allowing the FBI to do a brute force attack on the passcode.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has publicly vowed to fight the order on the basis that creating such a back door weakens the privacy of all Americans and makes us vulnerable to criminal hackers and foreign agents wanting to steal our personal data.
This is a position that security experts largely agree on, and it's a belief held by civil liberties groups such as the EFF. General Michael Hayden, former director of both the CIA (2006 to 2009) and the NSA (1999 to 2005), took Apple's side this week, too, saying in an interview that "[FBI Director] Jim Comey is wrong," and that America is stronger with unbreakable, end-to-end encryption.
Mr. Trump knows better, though, and impressed himself mightily by coming up with the boycott idea on the fly during a rally in South Carolina. As noted by Patently Apple, Mr. Trump said, "How do you like that? I just thought of it: Boycott Apple. Tim Cook is trying to do a big number. Probably to prove how liberal he is."
He then repeated that call in a series of three tweets:
I use both iPhone & Samsung. If Apple doesn't give info to authorities on the terrorists I'll only be using Samsung until they give info.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 19, 2016
Hopefully others will follow suit. Our country needs & should demand security. It is time to get tough & be smart!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 19, 2016
Boycott all Apple products until such time as Apple gives cellphone info to authorities regarding radical Islamic terrorist couple from Cal— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 19, 2016
Mr. Trump and other conservatives calling on Apple to create the software needed to crack the iPhone are largely in lockstep with the Obama administration. Bloomberg, whose editorial board has also called on Apple to comply with the order, reported that a secret memo issued by the National Security Council—an arm of the Executive Branch—tasked government agencies with finding ways to beat Apple's encryption. That same report said the FBI and the Justice Department has the White House's full support in pursuing this court order against Apple.
Photograph of Donald Trump courtesy of Shutterstock.