The Young Digital Economy Advisory Board uses the darkest autocratic rhetoric in its thesis paper. The excuses do nothing to ease tensions. In the end, all start-ups will suffer.

Perhaps first of all something positive: The Advisory Council Young Digital Economy has written something that has reached a broad public. Until now, the body, which is part of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, has flown under the radar since its founding in 2013. The other side of the coin: This attention was not for good ideas to promote Germany as a startup location, but for a frontal attack on the freedom of the press.

In a position paper, the advisory board blames German journalists for the fact that IPOs have not really taken off in Germany so far. So now the press has to be put on the spot. The ideas include the obligation to report also on "small" IPOs, an obligation for bloggers to use clear names and a "disciplining of the press" to report factually.

This incredible arrogance should come as no surprise to anyone who has been involved with the German start-up scene for any length of time. Many founders are so obsessed with their idea that they regard anyone who even moderately criticizes them as an enemy. Those who consider themselves world savers see critics as world rejecters. If the rhetoric of the paper doesn't send shivers down your spine, take a look at Poland or Hungary, the pseudo-autocrats there use very similar vocabulary. The last entrepreneurs in Germany to fire so blatantly against journalists were the Wirecard boardroom.

The excuse that it was only a working draft should not alleviate the worries. The thoughts were put on paper and then published. Whether they were ultimately intended for the public or not is of secondary importance: For it takes more than half an inattentive minute to put a thought down on paper in such a structured way. The fact that one of the authors Handelsblatt When asked, one of the authors was largely unresponsive, which makes it clear that this was not just a discussion that got a little out of hand, but that many a founder's thought pattern is closer to Orban, Trump and Co. than he might like.

The authors of the thesis paper have done everyone a disservice with their verbal grab down the toilet: Their colleagues on the advisory board, who had nothing to do with the paper, the outgoing Federal Minister of Economics, who was outraged about it on Twitter - and above all, the ambitious founders of this country, who now have to fight against the accusation that the digital industry doesn't take freedom of the press very seriously.

Because of course every start-up deserves to have its ideas and business models treated fairly and not to have the press damage their companies with false allegations. The only thing is that no new laws are needed for this, as it is already forbidden today. Generations of entrepreneurs in Germany have done very well with the existing sanctions. There is no need for a "lex start-up". Instead, what is needed is an advisory board that stands out for things other than a questionable understanding of democracy. Perhaps this is a project that Altmaier wants to take on in the last few metres of his term of office. It would be desirable.

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