Why does the state of California seem to be so much more aggressive about passing protection/safety legislation?

My impression is that they seem to pass consumer protection laws earlier and more aggressively than other states (and many countries) and act as trailblazers for other states and countries.

Some examples include pollution controls (which were passed before the Federal Clean Air act and are much stricter than other US states), Proposition 65 and a recent upcoming bill to require devices to include protections against being hijacked for botnets:

Both the U.K. and the U.S. state of California are set to soon require companies to sell devices with unique default passwords to prevent botnets from hijacking internet-connected devices at scale and using their collective internet bandwidth to knock websites offline.

Thousands of vulnerable TP-Link routers at risk of remote hijack - TechCrunch

So, what, if anything, is unique about California that results in these more aggressive consumer protection laws? Is there something about the legal environment there, or the political environment there, that makes this the case? Or is my impression mistaken?

  • 1
    Since the OP is not a member of Politics, I made some major changes to try to bring it more on-topic. I think that, whether or not it is an accurate impression, it is certainly a broadly held stereotype about California. I think it's definitely possible to answer this objectively: either why it's true, or why it's a myth
    – divibisan
    Dec 8, 2019 at 0:34
  • Voted to re-open because this, this, and this are all open Jul 11, 2021 at 17:05

2 Answers 2


While I'm really not qualified to really answer the why (other than that a majority of California voters will accept these things), there are two factors that have made it possible.

First is the sheer size of California and its economy. (If it were an independent country, it would be the 5th largest by GNP.) That makes it possible for California to impose regulations with a reasonable chance that manufacturers will conform to them, rather than lose that large a market. The flip side of this, of course, is that other states mostly don't have to enact similar regulations, since most manufacturers will just make California spec products, rather than run two separate but functionally identical product lines.

Second, especially WRT to pollution controls, the geography & population distribution of California meant that air pollution became a serious problem there long before other places. (As early as 1943: https://www.laweekly.com/history-of-smog/ ) The LA Basin, SF Bay Area, and the Central Valley are all closed basins, which means that air pollution can often be trapped there. (Anecdotally, when I was learning to fly in Southern California in the late '70s, there'd be many days when horizontal visibility at 5000 ft or so would be nearly unlimited, but I could only see the ground directly below.) Since it was obvious to most people that smog was a real problem, it was easier to get controls accepted. And once smog control regulations were accepted and the bureaucracy to implement them was established, like any other bureaucracy, it tried to grow & extend its reach.


The more proactive & efficient the law is, the more confident the consumer is. Such agressive consumer protection laws encourage citizens to participate more in the economy, effectively raising the state's GDP. In addition, it ensures, the vendors/manufactures to abide by the law effectively ensuring proper quality control throughout the system.

Consumer confidence is essential to the growth of any nation/state. States/Nations which protect consumers often grow better than its peers.

So, what, if anything, is unique about California that results in these more aggressive consumer protection laws?

To answer your question, you need to look outside of USA/EU. You will understand the problem.

People from the west/Europe do not understand any of the problem, because, you were always protected. Let me explain with an example. In our Country, you hardly get a working product, when you return a faulty product. If the product fails, the probability of getting a replacement is very low and often involves visiting the service centre in person and wait for 3 weeks to get an approval for replacement, which was officially in warranty period. (Amazon changed things in recent years). I, myself abstained from purchasing many products, which I needed and often stuck to DIY/No solutions. Spending was risky and I might end up wasting time visiting service centres and talking to idiots, who want to avoid basic service. If you dare to sue, be prepared to spend at-least a couple of years and the max the court could give you is the value of the product with Bank interest rate, if you are successful and if they don't appeal. If they appeal, Spend another 2 years in court. if you win there too, you will get your value of the product with bank interest.

Now, If I were in California, why would I be afraid of purchasing something I need, when I am confident that the law would protect me from defective products. This confidence is essential for a state/nation to grow. Such confidence puts pressure on manufacturers to produce better quality products.

States/nations which implement right protection laws often lead the pack in growth/standard of living. This encourages businesses to enter these regions to make money. Win-Win for All.

Consumer confidence is a transaction between parties, where money changed hands for any goods, services, security, etc. California had always lead the pack amongst other US States, hence they are the biggest economy. They want to continue their legacy of leading the pack, hence they aggressively implement consumer protection laws.

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    This explains why consumer protection laws are a good idea, but not why California is ahead of other US states.
    – gnasher729
    Dec 8, 2019 at 17:08
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    California is leading the pack. They want to maintain their suprimacy. Isnt that evitable? shd i add it in my answer?
    – user29025
    Dec 8, 2019 at 17:14
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    I don't think this is really what is meant by consumer protection laws, at least in the context of the question. It's more about business practices, and AFAIK there has been little if any difference between California and the rest of the US in these. For example, there's a difference between the business practice of being able to return/replace the faulty router you bought, and the "consumer protection" of having the state require it to have a unique default password.
    – jamesqf
    Dec 8, 2019 at 17:16
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    Consumer protection covers products, services, security and any other activity where a financial transaction occurred. The Router thing falls under security. Sorry for back to back posts. Let me know if you want me to clarify anything in my answer
    – user29025
    Dec 8, 2019 at 17:21
  • Would be helpful for context if you mentioned where you're from. I'm guessing eastern Europe? Dec 8, 2019 at 22:21

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