Fundamentally different approaches towards regulations and attitudes for data privacy could result in businesses underestimating legal and reputational risks when it comes to exploiting personal data.
The report by DLA Piper found that in the US, data privacy is strongly influenced by sector regulation, such as in health and financial services.
Meanwhile in China, laws are focused around consumer protection and trade secrets, while the EU has taken a holistic approach.
Although there is a divide in legal approaches, the report found that 75% of respondents consider the privacy of personal data as a priority issue. This was an attitude that was shared across all age groups.
According to the poll of 10,000 consumers, trust is the key factor which determines the opportunities which companies can reasonably pursue. This is due to an increasing awareness from consumers about how their personal data is being used.
It was also found that while 90% consider financial data and data regarding payment cards to be private, half stated that they were less sensitive about the privacy of their location, email, internet usage and use of social networks.
Over half of respondents accepted that the use of their personal data by companies will ensue, provided that there are confidence that no harmful consequences.
Carol Umhoefer, partner at DLA Piper who specialises in data protection, and co-authored the report said: "The potential for businesses to expand by guaranteeing confidentiality and data security, ensuring transparency and allowing consumer control over data is truly immeasurable."
"There is a need for businesses to monitor legal and cultural changes, but also to adapt to new behaviours and consumer practices."
The report which was co-authored by DLA Piper and the Boston Consulting Group, polled 10,000 consumers in 20 countries.