The association bonus doesn't count for protected questions (or "highly active questions", as they're now called). You need to earn 10 reputation on this site before that block disappears.
See also Why is the Association Bonus ignored when trying to answer a protected question?
protecting questions seems to be a smaller privilege
Why do you think that?
In what sense does protection seem "smaller"? Upvoting and downvoting are both equally important, but the downvote privilege is higher than upvote. Does this seem illogical, too? If not, why not?
Here's a few reasons that are more specific. For one thing, protection is unilateral, ...