The Future of the Internet: Protocols vs. Platforms

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Date: Feb. 20, 2020
Time: 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm


Event Start Date:
August 12, 2022
Event End Date:
August 12, 2022
Event Venue:

The early Internet evolved around many different protocols. Email utilized Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP), Post Office Protocol (POP), and Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP); The web was accessed using Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP), with data sent over Transmission Control Protocol and the Internet Protocol (TCP/IP); and you could chat with your friends over Internet Relay Chat (IRC), or access the news using Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP). Unlike today’s platforms controlled by a central authority like Apple or Facebook, these protocols were standards that anyone could use and build off of.

Today, the digital world has become dominated by walled gardens, each with a single set of policies and central control. But as these ecosystems have grown in scale, so have the challenges in managing them. Companies like Facebook and Google have to moderate billions of posts a day, comply with hundreds of different regulatory regimes and government entities. They are also increasingly expected to be proactive in finding ways to combat disinformation, violent extremism, drug abuse, bullying, and other societal ills. This status quo has led to complaints from all sides, and growing calls for new regulations or even breaking up today’s big tech companies. Instead—what if we returned to a world of open protocols, where more decisions are decentralized and left to communities of users?

Join Lincoln Network for a discussion of what this world might look like, whether there are policy mechanisms to get us there, and how we can best pave the way for greater protections of free speech online.


  • Mike Masnick, Founder, Techdirt
  • Cory Doctorow, Co-Editor, Boing Boing; Special Advisor, EFF
  • Other speakers to be announced.

With remarks by Lincoln Network executive director Garrett Johnson.

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Dan Lips
Head of Policy
Zach Graves
Executive Director
Grace Meyer
Chief Operating Officer
Marshall Kosloff
Media Fellow
Luke Hogg
Policy Manager
Deepesh Chaudhari
Senior Fellow