Spying in America

President Obama defends the urgent need to keep collecting data but concedes how it's done needs to change.
3:00 | 01/17/14

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Transcript for Spying in America
sophisticated hacker. We move now to washington where the president weighed in on the secretive nsa, he defending the surveillance changing it changed. We asked abc's jon karl to break this down. Reporter: The president is not ending any of those surveillance programs, in fact, he may a full throated defense of the nsa's work as essential to protecting the country. We cannot prevent terrorist attacks or cyber threats without some capable of the internet. Reporter: He's making changes. Take a look at this -- one of the facilities here that the nsa uses to store information on every phone call made in america, who called who, how long the call last, the president wants the government to get out of that business, no more storing all of that data. A private entity where the government can only get access with a court order. What about listening in those head of state phone calls. Reporter: He said that's going to stop in terms of a friend. He's going to pick up the phone and call that friend. There's a loophole, diane, he won't do it unless there's a compelling national security reason to listen to the call. Then there's edward snowden, these changes wouldn't be happening if it weren't for snowden. He said, leaks like his from snowden make it impossible to keep the country safe. All right, jonathan karl from the white house today, thank you, jon.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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