Surya Raghavendran started fixing phones when Apple tried to charge him $120 to fix the defective screen they'd installed in his phone; instead, he followed online instructional videos and fixed it himself.
That was in ninth grade. Now, Raghavendran is 17 and runs his own business, SKR Screen Repair.
But SKR Screen Repair is in trouble: Apple's newest Ios version uses DRM to prevent third party screen repairs, locking out third-party screens.
The change prompted Raghavendran to branch out into politics and advocacy: he's joined with Environment Michigan and US PIRG to advocate for a Right to Repair bill (previously) in Michigan. Raghavendran meets with state lawmakers and has circulated a petition and compiled personal stories about the need to protect independent repair.
Repair services account for 4% of US GDP, and they create community jobs that let neighbors help each other get more use out of their own property, while diverting electronics from landfills.
The new laws would be about more than just getting companies like Apple out of the way of scrappy businesses like SKR Screen Repair. Right to repair activists want big companies to turn over diagnostic information, repair manuals, and anything else that would help consumers repair their own devices.
For Proctor, every teenager like Raghavendran who gets involved in the fight for the right to repair brings that change one step closer to reality.
“This is an all hands on deck project,” Proctor said. “That includes hands like Surya’s, which are being blocked by policies which refuse to allow him access to things he needs to properly fix stuff. We want to be able to build a society where the expectation is that we can fix broken things.”