Asked about the latest revelation that the National Security Agency inadvertently pulled some Americans' emails, Obama argued that the news shows "all these safeguards, checks, audits, (and) oversight worked."
Obama said he is confident no one at the NSA is "trying to abuse this program or listen in on people's email." But he said there are "legitimate concerns that people have" regarding rapidly changing surveillance technology.
"There's no doubt that, for all the work that's been done to protect the American people's privacy, the capabilities of the NSA are scary to people," Obama said.
"What I recognize is that we're going to have to continue to improve the safeguards. And as technology moves forward, that means that we may be able to build technologies that give people more assurance," he added
The Washington Post reported last week that an internal audit of the NSA found the agency had broken privacy rules "thousands of times each year" since 2008.
The 2012 audit, the Post reported, found 2,776 incidents of "unauthorized collection, storage, access to or distribution of legally protected communications" in the preceding 12 months.
The newspaper received the internal audit from NSA leaker Edward Snowden, who sparked the controversy over domestic surveillance when he first stepped forward in June.
An empty nest and a new dog
Asked about life at home at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Obama said he's starting to brace himself for the day when his daughters, Sasha and Malia, head off to college.
"What I'm discovering is that each year, I get more excited about spending time with them," the president said. But "they get a little less excited" about spending time with their parents.
The first couple is dealing with the change in part with the help of a new dog -- a Portuguese water dog named Sunny.
"I think there is an element from Michelle and me, we see what's coming, and we need to make sure that we have somebody who greets us at the door when we get home," Obama noted.
The Obamas also have another Portuguese water dog, Bo, who was brought by the first family to the White House in 2009.