Security equipment companies in Hong Kong offer surveillance systems that allow employers to spy on their workers or maids from anywhere in the world over the Internet. Such a system could be set up for less than $20,000, a manager of one company in Mongkok said yesterday. He said the company could install four or five concealed cameras that would be linked to a data transmitter connected to a telephone line. Employers could then monitor live footage over the Internet. 'You just need to find a computer hooked up to the Internet, then go to our Web site and enter the password. You can watch what happens in real time. You can do that in your office or at a coffee shop. You can even watch it from another city.' His company had installed similar systems for 'dozens of customers' in recent weeks. A manager of another company in Cheung Sha Wan said it was 'perfectly legal' to install surveillance systems of this kind. 'As long as you don't put the hidden cameras inside the toilet, it is OK,' he said. The manager said many employers actually preferred to let their maids know that they were being watched. 'Not everyone likes hidden cameras. Many customers prefer to put them in eye-catching places and tell their maids that they will be watched. It could be much more effective because the maid would feel the pressure and you don't need to watch all the time.' He said a video surveillance system was much cheaper if the employers did not need to watch live footage. 'We can connect the data transmitter to a video recorder rather than the Internet. In that case, it only costs around $5,000.' The manager said surveillance equipment was very common. 'It's just like the shops that install CCTV to prevent shoplifting. And sometimes people just want to watch what happens at their home. Some . . . may want to look at their baby whenever they have spare time.'