Online privacy issues jumped to the forefront Wednesday in Maryland as the attorney general challenged Google Inc.'s new privacy policy, a few days after a pair of Baltimore attorneys filed a class-action lawsuit against Facebook Inc. for allegedly tracking users who ventured off its online social network.

Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler sent a letter to Google that demanded a meeting in a week about the company's changes to its privacy policy, which gives the Internet company deeper access to users' data across its services, such as Gmail and YouTube. Thirty-five other states joined Gansler in support.

"I am deeply concerned about Google's effort to push a major privacy change on consumers without giving them the choice to opt in, or at a minimum the opportunity to opt out," Gansler said in a statement.

Separately, attorneys William H. "Billy" Murphy and Peter G. Angelos, who owns the Baltimore Orioles, filed a federal lawsuit against Facebook in California last week — one of among a dozen suits in 11 states that will be consolidated by judges in California. The two attorneys have litigated several major class-action lawsuits and won multi-million-dollars payouts over the years.

"Facebook made a promise to its users that it would not track their website activity unless they were signed into Facebook," said Murphy. "And that promise turned out to be false."