Parsing your question, it sounds like you are looking for a somewhat dystopian setting where people are being monitored as they use the Internet (hello Google, FaceBook, Twitter etc.), but at a more technical level.
So I would suggest you go into the past and look at such former network protocols as the Token Ring LAN system. The system is innocuous itself, every time a user accesses the network, a "token" packet is generated and it essentially clears the way for the data to move from one system to the next. When the token is received at the other machine, it can then be "handed off" to the next user and so on.
From the description and diagrams, you can see the limitations of the system, essentially it forces one user at a time to access the network in order to prevent data from "crashing" into other data streams, and as you scale networks, it becomes increasingly hardware intensive.
For dystopia, this is a feature, not a bug! Network use is limited to whoever has the "token", so users are easy to track. "Big Brother", corporate snoops or whoever your Big Bad is can relatively easily monitor people through control of the Multistation Access Units (MAU's) much like anyone with control of a router on today's networks can control their network, and "throttling" , limiting access or even banning users altogether is much simpler. (Please, no "One Ring" puns...)
Token Ring was a successful and popular network protocol in the 1980's, and IBM was the major pioneer and vendor of this technology. It is quite possible to find technical information on Token Ring technology and protocols even today, although you are only likely to see actual hardware in the computer museum.
Since Token Ring does have scaling limitations and is hardware intensive, in a setting where TCP/IP and similar contention based access systems were never invented you will have an Internet which is much more limited, concentrated in areas where there is a high degree of existing infrastructure and wealth and certainly unlikely it would spread to relatively young and poor people (it is not clear to me if Token Ring architecture would even be workable on something like a cell phone/smart phone network).
So in your dystopia, rich people and middle and senior management types would be connected to the Internet, and would always be at the mercy of whoever can control the MAU's of their local work networks or the higher level MAU's in the public parts of the network (presumably the phone companies). Network hubs, where large numbers of MAU's are concentrated, would be carefully controlled and protected, since that would be the major weak point of a Token Ring network. "Hacking" would be much different, since the ability to move data is dependent on your machine being able to receive Tokens from other systems on the network, and I imagine it might resemble "phreaking" telephone networks more than todays proliferation of script kiddies, botnets and malware.
It will be interesting to think through the other implications of such a hardware intensive system being the backbone of an alternative Internet. Look forward to seeing what you come up with!