Businessman and presidential aspirant Donald Trump has called on the public to boycott Apple in response to the tech company's reluctance to help federal authorities in their investigation of the San Bernardino shootings.

The Trump Organization chairman and president voiced his opinion on the matter on Friday during a campaign rally in South Carolina.

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

Apple has been mired in controversy over the past few days after refusing to help FBI officials in unlocking an iPhone believed to be owned by Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the gunmen involved in the shooting at a community center in San Bernardino, California last December.

Federal authorities are hoping the tech company would develop a software that would allow them to access Farook's files on the smartphone.

In an open letter released earlier this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the government's demand is "chilling" and that it would serve to undermine the same freedom and liberty it is meant to uphold and protect.

Trump, however, challenged the iPhone maker's stance, arguing that the smartphone in question is not even owned by the gunman. He also noted that Farook used to work for the county government in California.

"The phone's owned by the government, OK? Not even his phone – we don't even have to go that far."

Trump has taken his campaign against Apple to social media. He sent out a tweet on Friday, saying that if Apple continues to refuse to cooperate with authorities in their investigation, he will stop using his iPhone and switch to Samsung devices.

He also reiterated his call to boycott Apple products until the company decides to give the smartphone information related to the terrorist group to the authorities.

A number of other tech firms, including Twitter, Microsoft, Facebook and Google, have expressed their support for Apple's stance.

A group representing the companies issued a statement on Wednesday where it pointed out that while it is highly important to stop crime and acts of terrorism, no company should be made to create backdoors to the technologies they own.

On Friday, the Department of Justice filed another motion to compel Apple to cooperate with the government's investigation.

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